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NATO

Germany to boost military cooperation with Sweden and Finland amid Nato bid

Germany will ramp up its military collaboration with Sweden and Finland as the two countries seek Nato membership in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Tuesday.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Tuesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

“We will intensify our military cooperation, especially in the Baltic Sea region and through joint exercises,” Scholz said amid concern for the two candidates’ security during the transition period to Nato accession.

“It is already clear that our countries are bound together by an obligation to provide each other with all possible assistance and support for mutual protection” as members of the United Nations and the European Union, Scholz added.

“Both countries can always rely on our support, especially in this very special situation,” he said.

Germany has been hiking up military spending and changing decades-held policies in the wake of the war on Ukraine, which began when Russia invaded its neighbour on February 24th this year. 

READ ALSO: Zeitenwende: How war in Ukraine has sparked a historic shift in Germany

With Moscow pressing its assault in eastern border regions of Ukraine nearly three months into its invasion, Helsinki and Stockholm are poised to give up decades of military non-alignment over fears they could be next.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson confirmed on Monday her country would apply to join Nato, a day after Finland — which shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia – said the same.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose war has sparked global outrage, said the move poses “no direct threat for us… but the expansion of military infrastructure to these territories will certainly provoke our response”.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg told a meeting of the alliance in Berlin on Sunday that it would “look into ways to provide security assurances including by increasing Nato presence in the region” during the transition period.

“Finland and Sweden are concerned about the interim period… we will try to speed up that process,” he said.

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SWEDEN AND RUSSIA

Sweden joining Nato ‘no problem for Russia’

Russia has "no problem" if Finland and Sweden join Nato, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

Sweden joining Nato 'no problem for Russia'

“We don’t have problems with Sweden and Finland like we do with Ukraine,” Putin told a news conference in the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat.

“We don’t have territorial differences. There is nothing that could bother us about Sweden and Finland joining Nato. If Finland and Sweden wish to, they can join. That’s up to them. They can join whatever they want.”

However, “if military contingents and military infrastructure were deployed there, we would be obliged to respond symmetrically and raise the same threats for those territories where threats have arisen for us,” Putin said.

READ ALSO:

Sweden and Finland have both decided to apply to join Nato after Russia launched its military operation in pro-Western Ukraine on February 24. The formal process for membership was launched at the Nato summit in Madrid on Wednesday.

Until now, Russia had always been critical of the prospect of the two Nordic countries joining the alliance, saying it would be a “destabilising factor” for international security. Putin nevertheless condemned Nato’s “imperial ambitions”, accusing the alliance of seeking to assert its “supremacy” through the Ukraine conflict.

“Ukraine and the well-being of Ukrainian people is not the aim of the collective West and Nato but a means to defend their own interests,” Putin said. “The Nato countries’ leaders wish to… assert their supremacy, their imperial ambitions.” 

The Atlantic alliance and “above all the United States have long needed an external enemy around which they can unite their allies,” the Russian leader said. “Iran wasn’t good for that. We’ve given them this opportunity… to gather the whole world around them.”

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