Finland, Sweden and US to sign trilateral defence cooperation deal

Finland, Sweden and US to sign trilateral defence cooperation deal

Neither Finland nor Sweden is in NATO and both have historically pursued a policy of non-alignment with the US or Russia.

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Photo: AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Finland and Sweden’s defence ministers will meet with US Secretary of Defence James Mattis in Washington to sign a trilateral agreement on defence relations today.

Historically, both countries have been more inclined to diplomatic cooperation but have generally steered clear of military alliances. Neither country is in NATO and both have historically pursued a policy of non-alignment with the US or Russia because of a desire to maintain economic ties with their geographical neighbours of Russia and Western Europe.

Both states only spend about 1% of their GDP on their militaries. But, due to concerns over Russian aggression in Crimea and Sino-Russian war games in the Baltic Sea, both countries have shown a desire to increase spending for national security reasons.

It is unlikely either country would consider joining NATO in the immediate future. Sweden has repeatedly stated it does not intend to join, while Finland’s 2017 official defence policy stated that Finland does not recognize Russia as a direct threat. However, do expect with the signing of the new agreement, the possibility of more direct involvement with the US military: perhaps in the form of future basing grants and more joint exercises in the Baltic Sea.

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