The two Nordic nations, which have considered forming a military alliance of their own for years, are poised to further coordinate their positions and carry out a joint analysis of the benefits of joining JEF. So far, both Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist and his Finnish counterpart Jussi Niinistö have been positive about the idea, Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported.
"Our cooperation with Britain is highly developed. Although it is poised to leave the EU, the British Defense Minister specifically pointed out that it wants to remain an active player, assume its responsibilities regarding the security of Europe and remain a partner one can trust implicitly, Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.
"Our view is that the UK is an extremely important actor in the European defense and security field. It has a large capacity, which is why it is important to maintain this relationship," Hultqvist said.
Meanwhile, the UK has been building up its military profile in Eastern Europe. Last week, the first British officers arrived in Finland's neighbor Estonia as part of the new NATO battalion tasked with preventing Russian "sneak attacks." The British have the main responsibility for securing Estonia with armored vehicles, tanks, drones and 800 men.
"JEF is not a NATO force per se, but a British initiative with British-led operations. This means that we are free to join, without any obligation to participate in operations," Hultqvist said, suggesting clear difference between JEF and NATO.
The UK Joint Expeditionary Force is a United Kingdom-led expeditionary force consists of Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway. JEF member states plan to hold joint drills with the intent of supporting the UN, the EU or NATO with a range of responses from humanitarian operations to direct warfare. JEF's maximum force is estimated at 10,000, whereas each participating country decides itself on whether and how to contribute.
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