Sweden and Finland are going to expand their military cooperation and set up a joint naval task force. The two countries that are not members of NATO, plan to respond to the relations between Russia and the countries of the former Baltic region, Reuters reports.
Sweden and Finland have both have been alarmed by increased Russian military activity in the Baltic Sea and by Moscow's actions in Ukraine. Neither is part of NATO.
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said closer future cooperation would make a would-be attacker think twice, Reuters writes. "If we use our common resources and work in a coordinated way, it will … be a signal to the wider world that raises the bar," the newspaper Dagens Nyheter quoted Hultqvist as saying.
However, he suggested that this move could anger Russia. "In that case, it is their problem. We have a completely defensive agenda. We cannot act on what other countries may feel and think," he said.
According to the Swedish minister, the intentions of the two countries do not formally involve helping each other in times of war, but involve common defense in such a case.
Russian support for separatists in Ukraine has raised tensions across Europe and particularly in the Baltic states. NATO fighters scrambled more than 100 times in 2014 to intercept Russian aircraft, about three times as many as in 2013. Sweden, Denmark and the UK have all summoned the Russian ambassadors to each country to complain of Russian military flights posing a danger to civil aircraft, the article in Reuters states.
According to Reuters, Sweden also conducted the biggest submarine chase in decades last year after sightings of a sub in the Stockholm archipelago. Although the defence forces said it couldn't identify the nationality of the submarine, most analysts suspected it was Russian.
Also, we already reported that recently the Royal Navy intercepted a Russian warship equipped with missiles, torpedoes and anti-aircraft guns and a tanker in British shores.