U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Swedish Minister of Defensce Peter Hultqvist and Finnish Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö appear at the Pentagon before signing a new trilateral agreement.
Finland, Sweden and the U.S. have signed a whole new letter pledging to boost the national security relationship relating to the two nations.
The language inside agreement, signed Tuesday at the Pentagon by U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Swedish Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist and Finnish Minister of Defense Jussi Niinistö, is nonbinding and largely involves big themes instead of steady deliverables.
But speaking to us as soon as the signing, both visiting ministers emphasized until this is a kick off point for future strengthened relations, understanding that you will see a particular increased exposure of increasing and planning joint exercises.
“We need to work in a deeper way with exercises as a way to develop interoperability. I think this agreement can make it simpler for us to take a seat together and policy for that form of activity,” Hultqvist said. “So I think this can be a platform to develop different form of activities that may make more security and stability inside our portion of Europe.”
Niinistö called the possibility of greater coordination and increased exercises the “most concrete and important part” with the letter, adding that this discussions will have a direct impact as Finland prepares to host a major exercise using its partners in 2021.
The three nations had previously used a few bilateral agreements tying one another together in loose ways. But the aggressiveness of Russia following 2014 invasion of Ukraine has driven Sweden and Finland to look to make more formal ties with all the U.S.
In comments on the Pentagon, Mattis praised the 2 European nations for “providing a steady anchor of stability in a region more tense due to Russia’s unfortunate, unproductive and destabilizing choices in the Ukraine to Syria.”
“When we speak together similar to this, we bring a tempering of anyone’s aggressive desires, and I think which is the message here today,” Mattis added.
Among the points necessary inside the letter are regular trilateral meetings in any way levels, including study groups; exchanges of information in any respect levels; increased “practical cooperation” between the three militaries, including coordinated participation in training and exercises; greater cooperation in multinational operations; and coordination of strategic communications involving the countries.
The letter also calls for the three to assist drive an “enhancement in the EU-NATO strategic partnership,” a notable line given recent tensions involving the European Unoin and NATO member nations around defense issues.
Finland and Sweden are nonaligned countries with NATO, which Washington sees since the core of its European defense interests. The two nations are active members with the EU and it is newly founded Permanent Structured Cooperation on Security and Defense, or PESCO, agreement, which American officials happen to be watchful about, simply over fears it could lead to protectionism for European’s defense industry.
Niinistö acknowledged that topic came up during the meeting with Mattis, noting: “PESCO is often a topic, I guess, every time when Secretary Mattis meets some European counterpart.”
But the minister said Finland and the U.S. are aligned of their goal to stop any kind of protectionist bent for European industry in the agreement, as Finland is “practically married” to U.S. defense technology.