The UK would definitely help Sweden if Russia were to mount an attack, British defence secretary Ben Wallace said at a joint press conference in Copenhagen, alongside Sweden’s defence minister, Peter Hultqvist, and Denmark’s defence minister Morten Bødskov.
“Sweden is part of the same family. We would stand beside Sweden and do everything we can to help, both militarily and in other ways,” Wallace said.
Hultqvist welcomed the British assurances, which he said he had been given previously in informal discussions between the ministers.
He said he was “pleased” that Wallace was now making the same statement in public. “This is a statement from the UK which we are pleased to hear,” he said.
“For the last eight years, Sweden has increased its military capacity substantially. We have an investment programme with an 80 percent increase between 2014-2025 and are now negotiating further measures,” he told the TT newswire. “Sweden has made at least 20 agreements with other countries, including the UK and the USA, and a partnership with Nato.
“We are developing and deepening our partnership with Nato. We have tried to piece together parts of a security jigsaw in our part of Europe together with others, and if someone in our vicinity is attacked, we will all be affected.”
The countries’ defence ministers had met in Copenhagen in connection with a pre-planned training exercise as part of the British-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).
During the visit, it became clear that the meeting was not just about an exercise. Material and Danish personnel will be sent to Estonia on the Danish frigate HDMS Niels Juel, escorted by the Swedish corvette HMS Karlstad, and a Swedish helicopter.
The exercise and the operation should be seen as part of Nato’s deterrent measures against Russia and president Vladimir Putin, Bødskov said.
“There is one man which is chiefly responsible for the situation we are currently in, and that is Putin,” he said. “He is the one who – in the most brutal way – has removed a land’s right to choose freely and independently who they want to cooperate with. That is what he has taken away from the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian government.”
The other Nordic countries, the three Baltic states and the Netherlands are also part of the operation in Copenhagen. Apart from Sweden and Finland, the other countries are all members of Nato.