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Swedish PM in London for meeting of UK-led Nordic defence group

Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is in London to meet the leaders of the nine Nordic and Baltic countries in the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) grouping.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses for a photo with other leaders of countries in the JET defence grouping. Sweden's Prime Minister is above his right shoulder.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses for a photo with other leaders of countries in the JET defence grouping. Sweden’s Prime Minister is above his right shoulder. Photo: Justin Tallis/AP

Ahead of the meeting Andersson told the TT newswire that the countries had already decided to increase support given to Ukraine, and to further tighten sanctions on Russia, adding more figures from the Russian elite to the list of sanctioned people, and also stopping exports of luxury products to Russia. 

She stressed that JEF was not an alternative to cooperation with the Nato security alliance. 

“JEF is one way we cooperate,” she said. “Sweden is building its security on two tracks, one of which is giving a powerful boost to our military spending to strengthen our own defence capabilities.” 

The other, she said, was building alliances, of which JEF was one. “That’s [an area] where we are going to see increased activity, given the current security situation.”

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The UK-led expeditionary force groups together Sweden with the other Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland), the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), and The Netherlands. It was formed in 2012, but Sweden did not join until 2017. Sweden and Finland are the only members of the group which are not also part of Nato. 

She said that the discussions would range around what joint exercises the group could carry out in future, further sanctions on Russia, and increased support for Ukraine. 

“We can’t only have sanctions, but also need to support the Ukrainian military,” Andersson said. “But it’s clear that sanctions are having an effect. The ruble is falling.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, will participate in the meeting through a video link. 

While in London, Magdalena Andersson will also hold bilateral meetings with Finland’s president Sauli Niinistö, and Iceland’s prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir. 

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NATO

Erdogan signals no progress on Sweden’s NATO bid

Erdogan signalled on Saturday that no progress had been made in Sweden's bid to join NATO, urging Stockholm to take "concrete actions" to meet Ankara's concerns, his office said.

Erdogan signals no progress on Sweden's NATO bid

In a phone call with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Erdogan reiterated that “Sweden should take steps regarding such fundamental matters as combatting terrorism”, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

Turkey “wanted to see binding commitments on these issues together with concrete and clear action,” he added.

Finland and Sweden discussed their stalled NATO bids with Turkey in Brussels on Monday, but Ankara dampened hopes that their dispute will be resolved before an alliance summit next week.

Turkish officials said Ankara does not view the summit as a final deadline for resolving Ankara’s objections. Ankara has accused Finland and in particular Sweden of providing a safe haven for outlawed Kurdish militants whose decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Erdogan told Andersson that Sweden “should make concrete changes in its attitude” toward the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliates, the presidency said.

“In this regard no tangible action aimed at addressing Turkey’s concerns was seen to have been taken by Sweden”, it added.

READ ALSO: Hopes fade for Sweden’s swift Nato accession

The Turkish leader also voiced expectations that Sweden would lift an arms embargo against Turkey that Stockholm imposed in 2019 over Ankara’s military offensive in Syria.

He also said he hopes that restrictions on Turkey’s defence industry would be lifted, and that Sweden will extradite several people Ankara has accused of involvement in terrorism.

The phone call comes after Erdogan discussed the two countries’ bid with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg. Erdogan also told Stoltenberg that “Sweden and Finland should take concrete and sincere steps” against outlawed Kurdish militants, the presidency said.

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