Finland steps up defense cooperation with US, eyes NATO membership

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HELSINKI. KAZINFORM - Last week, Finland signed a controversial memorandum on bilateral defense cooperation with the US (also known as a Statement of Intent). Earlier this year, Sweden concluded a similar agreement, which is expected to push the two remaining non-aligned Nordic states in the direction of full NATO membership, Sputnik reports.

The Statement of Intent was signed by Finnish Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö and US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work. The agreement aims to deepen the bilateral defense cooperation between the two countries, making it more regular and diversified. The partnership, among other things, is set up to strengthen the countries' defense policy, information exchange, as well as preparedness in terms of training and exercises. Furthermore, cooperation will also be intensified in research and development and international operations, Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet reported.

Finnish Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö stressed specifically that Finland is not inching closer on NATO, as no new foreign policy strategy has been drawn up. According to Niinistö, the US interest in security in Northern Europe is only positive for Finland as a "stabilizing factor." The Statement of Intent was among other things motivated by the upcoming presidential elections in the US. With most of the US administration likely to be replaced after the elections, the Statement of Intent would possibly have disappeared from the agenda. Earlier this year, a similar agreement with the US was signed by Sweden.

"The content is very similar. Without an inferiority complex, one can say that we took after Sweden in this arrangement," Niinistö told Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet.

Both Finland and Sweden currently maintain a similar defense arrangement with the UK.


Photo: © AP Photo/ RONI LEHTI / Lehtikuva via AP, FILE

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