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Sweden agrees to help monitor Nato airspace

Sweden agrees to help monitor Nato airspace

Published: 31 Oct 2012 15:33 GMT+01:00
Updated: 31 Oct 2012 15:33 GMT+01:00

Sweden said Wednesday that it and Finland, two countries outside any military alliances, would help monitor the airspace of Nato member Iceland for a few months in early 2014 in what is seen as a sensitive step.

Iceland has no armed forces of its own. The United States guaranteed the North Atlantic island's defence with a permanent military presence from 1951 until 2006 under an agreement between the two countries.

But the US closed its Naval Air Station at Keflavik in 2006, and since then Nato member Norway has helped Reykjavik monitor its airspace.

"In connection with the Nordic Council of Ministers session in Helsinki today, Sweden and Finland have expressed their willingness to take part in monitoring Iceland's airspace together with Norway for the first four months of 2014," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said in a statement.

Bildt later told the Swedish news agency TT the decision was "about solidarity with Nordic neighbours and nothing to do with Nato. And keep in mind that Nato has sought assurances that we will not be carrying out Nato missions, that is for Nato countries."

Both Nato and the parliaments in Finland and Sweden have to give the green light for the operation, though no dates have yet been set for those decisions.

While Finland and Sweden are not members of the North Atlantic alliance, the two countries cooperate closely with it and regularly take part in exercises and peacekeeping operations through NATO's Partnership for Peace programme.

While increasing Nato cooperation is sensitive in both countries, it is particularly so in Finland.

It is the only non-Nato European state bordering Russia, and its non-alignment with the military bloc is seen as an important tool for maintaining good relations with its mighty neighbour.

In June, Russian armed forces chief Nikolai Makarov issued a warning to Helsinki over its close cooperation with Nato.

"Finland's participation in Nato exercises proves that Finland is gradually joining Nato activities. Under certain circumstances this can create a dangerous situation regarding Russia's military security," Makarov said in a speech in Helsinki.

Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen has said his government will not discuss the issue of possible Nato membership during the current cabinet term, which ends in 2015.

AFP/The Local

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Your comments about this article

02:19 November 1, 2012 by sunnchilde
Does it really matter if Finland or Sweden are "official" NATO members? In a crisis, certainly in a fight, they would not side with Russia. They would both instantly side with NATO or "Allied" forces. In a moment of confusion, the Finnish airforce would certainly more quickly fire on a Russian MiG before they ever fired on an American or NATO plane. My point is, official or not, Finland and Sweden are already 90% part of NATO right now, without the ceremony and piece of paper.

If you live with someone, have children with someone, you're already married to them, even without the piece of paper.
07:09 November 1, 2012 by isenhand
-Under certain circumstances this can create a dangerous situation regarding Russia's military security-

I suppose those certain circumstances are if Russia engages in a war with NATO or closely allied countries to NATO. Otherwise, why worry? Now, why would Russian want to engage in a war with NATO?

As at least Sweden (I don't know about Finland) has a commitment to defending Nordic countries and the EU and works under NATO command elsewhere and in doing so would need to work with NATO in any war in Europe I fail to see why NATO membership would cause any problems. As sunnchilde says, there are already members; all but for a bit of paper.

Interesting that the Russians are concerned about Finland but not Sweden. Obviously, Finland has done something right with its defence while Sweden has messed up its own defence!
07:33 November 1, 2012 by rise

I agree. To side with Russia would hardly ever happen. Through the centuries Russia has meant one thing: war. For both Sweden and Finland (for the major part of the countries history they've actually been the one and a same country: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_Empire).
08:56 November 1, 2012 by Sven-Ingvar
Sweden has as much choice as a piece of steak in a confrontation with Russia

10:07 November 1, 2012 by rise
@ Sven-Ingvar

Disgusting attitude.
08:38 November 2, 2012 by Uncle
"Sweden has as much choice as a piece of steak in a confrontation with Russia"

Ehhh. And this is based on what? The Soviet Union success in the nordic forests? Perhaps on the superiority of the Russian T-80's and T-90's that cannot pass on Swedish nor Finnish terrain and have the weakest armor above the turret among competing tanks? Maybe on the marine superiority of russian NAVY that did not get any funds for the last 20 years, since everything was thrown on 3 next gen submarines and their strategic weaponry?

Given a conventional war, only the Swedish and Finnish engineering corps + anti naval forces can hold off an attack of the entire ex-"Nordic Armed Group" of the Russians.

Even the Soviet military doctrine at it's height assumed that Scandinavia will be "jumped over" to Iceland in order to cut the supplies from US and simply starved out, since nobody in his right mind will try to pass through Finnish and Swedish forests without at least the use of tactical nuclear weapons, which in it's turn would mean that the entire world would be "well done".
03:53 November 3, 2012 by Sven-Ingvar
@rise 2Uncle

To do with Sweden being a "neutral" country which would be given choice as a piece of steak "RARE, MEDIUM or WELL DONE" (out come the vegetarians)

Best idea for Swedish defense was the recorded message "Igor you mother wants you to come home"

The claim that Sweden is to hard to pass through and Russia would choose to bypass is nonsense.

The time frame for "resistance" in *modern* warfare by any major super power against Sweden is nothing.

Best to sit still and pray to Sweden's only legally defined God, the Christian God whose compound redemptive name is Lord Jesus Christ!

Or buy a nuclear bomb deterrent from Iran or Saudi Arabia
07:24 November 3, 2012 by rise

I hope you aren't some politician in power because it is your way of thinking that made the Nazi trains through Sweden possible in the first place. Disgusting.

My father always said "hellre fäkta än illa fly" and I believe him quite right.
11:32 November 3, 2012 by Sven-Ingvar
@rise Your father is correct, nowadays one has to consider consequences which is 100% annihilation so be clear in what you do


It was common knowledge at the time Nazi's were allowed through Sweden the greatest fear of the day was the "Jewish revolution"

where Christians were being exterminated inSoviet Gulags.

The Germans losing WWII, according to historian and Nobel laureate, Alexander Solzhenitsyn in book "Two Hundred Years Together" cost the lives of 60 to 70 million Christians! Finland did stop the Soviets entering Sweden but a great cost fighting with incredible bravery
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