Norway and Denmark give guarantee to Nordic neighbours over Nato bids

Norway, Denmark and Iceland stated on Monday they would provide assistance "by all means necessary" to their Nordic neighbours, Sweden and Finland, should either of the latter two countries face attacks on their territory before joining Nato.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has announced her government's decision to take Sweden into Nato. File photo: JANEK SKARZYNSKI / AFP

The Danish Prime Minister’s office on Monday issued a joint statement on behalf of Denmark, Norway and Iceland.

“Finland and Sweden’s security is a matter of common concern to us all. Should Finland or Sweden be victim of aggression on their territory before obtaining Nato membership, we will assist Finland and Sweden by all means necessary,” the statement reads.

Earlier on Monday, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced her government’s decision to take Sweden into Nato, ending two centuries of military non-alignment.

Sweden and Finland have both expressed a desire to act in lockstep on Nato membership and submit their applications jointly.

“We strongly welcome Finland and Sweden’s decisions to apply for Nato membership,” the statement from Denmark, Norway and Iceland read.

“We note that the decisions by Finland and Sweden to apply for Nato membership are sovereign national decisions in line with Finland and Sweden’s right to choose their own security arrangements. Finland and Sweden have the right to pursue their accession process without any attempts of outside interference,” the three countries said in the statement.

Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre said that “together with Denmark and Iceland, Norway stands ready to assist its Nordic neighbours by all means necessary should they be the victim of aggression on their territory before obtaining Nato membership.”

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told media on Monday afternoon that the government would forward a motion to parliament “as soon as possible” on the Swedish and Finnish applications to join Nato.

She added that Denmark is fully behind the applications to join the defence alliance.

“In our eyes, this brings an opportunity to strengthen Nordic partnerships, including on security and defence,” she said.

“We therefore want Denmark to do everything it can to make sure Finland and Sweden join Nato as soon as possible,” she said.

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Major Nato manoeuvres kick off in Norway

Major military exercises involving 30,000 Nato troops and partner countries kicked off in Norway on Monday as tensions escalate between the West and Russia over the Ukraine war.

Major Nato manoeuvres kick off in Norway

Cold Response 2022, planned long before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, aims to test how Norway would manage Allied reinforcements on its soil, in line with Article 5 of Nato’s charter which requires member states to come to the aid of another member state under attack.

“It’s a defensive exercise”, said General Yngve Odlo, in charge of Cold Response.

“It’s not a military operation with an offensive purpose”, he told television channel TV2.

Organised every two years, the naval, air and ground drills are held over vast swathes of Norway’s territory, including above the Arctic Circle.

They will however stay several hundred kilometres away from Norway’s border with Russia.

Russia declined Norway’s invitation to send observers.

“Any build-up of Nato military capabilities near Russia’s borders does not help to strengthen security in the region”, Russia’s embassy in Norway told AFP last week.

Russia “has the capacity out there to follow (the exercise) in an entirely legitimate manner”, Odlo said.

“I really hope they respect existing agreements”, he added.

As during previous editions of the exercise, neighbouring Sweden and Finland, which are military non-aligned but increasingly close partners of Nato, will also participate in Cold Response.

Russia’s invasion has renewed debate in the two Nordic countries about possible Nato membership.

Some 200 aircraft and 50 vessels are also taking part in the manoeuvres, which last until April 1st.

The exercise began Monday with naval operations and the deployment on land of part of Nato’s rapid reaction force.