Sweden, Denmark, and Norway Embark on New Military Cooperation Against 'Big Neighbour in the East'
The defence agreement between NATO members Denmark and Norway and formally non-aligned Sweden to bolster joint military capacity to parry threats is aimed at making the security picture safer via a "dissuasive" effect.
Three Scandinavian countries, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway are set to sign an operational military cooperation agreement on Friday, 24 September. Its stated goal is to increase the military capability of the nations through joint exercises and to be able to meet any threats and events together.
According to the three, the security situation in the Øresund Strait (also known as the Sound) and the North Sea area has deteriorated. For this reason, the ability to jointly meet threats and violations needs to be increased, they argued.
Norwegian Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen suggested that the agreement made the security picture "safer", describing it as a complement to NATO.
"It is both dissuasive and has a significant security effect", Bakke-Jensen told
Norwegian channel TV2.
By contrast, Danish Defence Minister Trine Bramsen ventured that the agreement does not significantly change the country's security situation.
"It is NATO that is our insurance if we are suddenly attacked. But that does not change the fact that it is always good when a neighbour comes to rescue. Assistance from a neighbour is also a really important thing in a military context", Bramsen told Denmark's TV2, citing the cyber domain as a possible realm of cooperation. "It makes really good sense to have a greater analytical power with them. And thus also become stronger individually. We also get more eyes and ears when we pool our resources", she concluded.
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist stressed the overall importance of expanding military cooperation with other countries, citing, among other things, the risk of international terrorism and a more troubled world. Hultqvist specifially named Russia, which, he ventured
to national broadcaster SVT, is "prepared to use military force to achieve political goals and objectives". At the same time, Hultqvist emphasised "an increased military build-up" in Sweden's immediate surroundings, despite Stockholm itself having recently presented a new expansion of the nation's military, which at the current stage includes five new regiments and a new air flotilla.
Henrik Breitenbauch, the head of the Centre for Military Studies at the University of Copenhagen, made no secret of the defence agreement being concluded against "the big neighbour in the East", that is Russia. However, he ventured that the joint military muscles of the three countries are "far too small" for such an endeavour. On a scale from one to five among important factors to ensure Denmark's security, Henrik Breitenbauch rated NATO as a five, giving the agreement with Sweden and Norway a two.
"Sweden cannot come to our rescue and has usually stayed out when others have come after us", Henrik Breitenbauch told Danish TV2, citing World War II and the 1864 Schleswig War with Germany.
The Swedish opposition party, the Moderates, was positive about the agreement with NATO members Norway and Denmark. Yet, the strongly pro-NATO party said it didn't replace a full membership with defence guarantees.
Unlike Norway and Denmark, Sweden remains formally non-aligned, yet has maintained increasingly closer cooperation with both NATO and the US.
In recent years, all three Scandinavian nations have increased their military spending
and carried out build-ups
, citing the so-called "Russian threat". To this, Russia's Foreign Ministry replied that these measures, coupled with NATO's efforts, contribute to the militarisation of the Baltic Sea and the Arctic.
Among other things, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova recently emphasised that the "increasingly toxic" attitude in the West towards Russia, the "aggressive encouragement of anti-Russia sentiments", and the "demonisation of Russia's policies" have affected relations.