NATO, EU preparing for exercises against hybrid threats
In cooperation with the EU, NATO is preparing for exercises against hybrid threats in which Finland and Sweden are also slated to participate. Finland and Sweden are also participating in Thursday's NATO meeting in Brussels, where one focus is the strengthening of cooperation between EU and the alliance.
Among other issues to be discussed are exercises in countering hybrid threats. It was agreed at NATO's Warsaw Summit in July that these exercises are to begin next year.
Up until now, progress had not been made on the joint exercises due to opposition from Turkey and Cyprus.
Finland is being represented at NATO's meeting in Brussels by Finnish Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö. Likewise invited was the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.
According to diplomatic sources, it is hoped that Mogherini will dispel concerns regarding the EU's alleged intention to create defense structures that would duplicate NATO's.
The EU's plan to strengthen defense cooperation has sparked concern primarily among allied states who do not belong to the EU.
Stoltenberg: NATO-EU cooperation stronger than ever before
NATO-EU cooperation is stronger than ever before, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at Thurday's meeting of defense ministers in Brussels.
"A stronger Europe means a stronger NATO," he stressed.
The alliance and the EU cooperate on the Aegean Sea, for example, where they work closely together in combating human smuggling.
"We launched Operation Sea Guardian," said Stoltenberg. "That is our new operation on the Mediterranean Sea with which we are supporting the EU's Operation Sophia at the same time."
Allied defense ministers are discussing how to increase such cooperation even further in order to stand against hybrid threats and cyberattacks together as well as conduct exercises and support the alliance's partners.