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Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist (left), British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Finnish Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö meet in Stockholm on 30 June 2017. The three reached an agreement on Finland and Sweden joining the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).

 

Finland and Sweden are now members of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF). The British-led military force is a rapid response unit that can support NATO or UN troops anywhere in the world.

The two Nordic nations officially became part of the Joint Expeditionary Force in Stockholm on Friday, when Finnish Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö and his Swedish counterpart Peter Hultqvist signed an agreement with British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon. The latter called it “a force of friends.”

The JEF does not comprise of permanent troops, but instead each country is committed to offering units in the event of a crisis situation, whether that involves combat, deterrence or humanitarian support. Ground, air and naval forces are led by British commanders, while participating countries contribute specialist skills and troops.

Speaking about the agreement, Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö explained: “Finland will not get any kind of security guarantee, this is not a military alliance.” He went on to add that a potential crisis could be an epidemic, a natural disaster or a military matter.

Finland’s decision to join the military force comes as the latest in a series of steps the country has taken to strengthen its cooperation with NATO, which is widely viewed as the result of Russia’s behaviour in the Baltic region.

Speaking in February, when the UK first invited Finland to join the expeditionary force, Niinistö was quoted as saying that “Finland’s military performance needs to be updated” as a result of “the current global security environment.”

Dan Anderson – HT

Photo: TT / Lehtikuva / Janerik Henriksson

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