Finnish defence minister: Sweden joining Nato boosts Finland’s defence

Sweden’s recent Nato membership is also a significant leap forward for Finland’s defence, said Finland’s Defence Minister Antti Häkkänen (NCP), describing the current security situation in the Nordic region.

On Saturday, Häkkänen visited Enontekiö in Finnish Lapland for Nato’s Nordic Response combat exercises and met with Swedish Defence Minister Pål Jonson and Norwegian Defence Minister Bjørn Arild Gram.

“This exercise sends a strong message that Nato has a strong joint operational capability here in the Arctic. The interoperability between the armed forces of various Nato countries is of a very high quality — from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea,” Häkkänen said.

The large-scale drills led by Norway and involving Nato countries have been taking place across the northern regions of Finland, Sweden and Norway.

“The other Nordic defence ministers are here together and strongly present, which adds depth and strength to our defence. Specifically, Sweden contributes a significant leap forward for Finland’s defence capabilities,” Häkkänen said.

Häkkänen: New connections in the north

According to Häkkänen, a key issue for the coming years is to improve transport links between Finland, Norway and Sweden in order to make it easier to transport troops across borders.

“Military mobility here on the roof of northern Europe is one of the key development issues for the coming years. How quickly can support troops be moved to areas such as Finland, and how do connections to Norwegian ports function?” Häkkänen said.

The defence ministers also discussed the functioning of the ore transport railways between Sweden and Norway, as well as other pieces of critical infrastructure in the north.

“Primarily it is a discussion from a military and defence point of view, but such routes have significant benefits for the economy and everyday movement in the north,” Häkkänen added.

Countering Russia in the Arctic

Even though Russia’s army is tied up fighting far from the Finnish border in Ukraine, Häkkänen warned that the Russian navy and air force are still highly operational in the Arctic region.

“There are no problems at the moment, but it is foreseeable that after the war in Ukraine, Russia will strengthen its military presence not only in the Arctic, but also near Finland’s eastern border,” Häkkänen said.

For Russia, the Arctic region is strategically important due to its location, accessibility and resources.

“The Nato alliance, defence cooperation with other Nordic countries and the US DCA will further increase security in the Nordic region,” Häkkänen said.

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