The defense ministers of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland made a joint statement on Thursday, calling Russia's actions the biggest challenge to the European security.
The statement, published in Norway’s daily Aftenposten, called for closer defense cooperation and increased solidarity with the Baltic states, aiming to increase regional security. It calls for more joint exercises and exchange of intelligence information between the Nordic countries and Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania.
Russia’s recent record of violating principles of international law and increased military activity in the vicinity of Baltic states and Scandinavia were cited as the reasons for the statement.
"There is increasing military and intelligence activity in the Baltics and in our northern areas. The Russian military is challenging us along our borders and there have been several border infringements in the Baltics. Russia's actions are the biggest challenge to the European security," the defense ministers said, adding that Russia’s propaganda and political manoeuvring are contributing to sowing discord between nations, and inside organizations like NATO and the EU.
Estonian defense experts and politicians have long argued for more extensive cooperation between the Nordic countries and Baltic states, calling also Sweden and Finland to join NATO. The International Center for Defense and Security, Estonia's leading think tank on geopolitical issues, recently warned that Baltic independence is directly related to Sweden's NATO membership status or its ability to defend itself, pointing also out that Sweden has become militarily so weak that it could not guarantee its own national sovereignty, let alone the security of other countries.
Editor: S. Tambur