Nordic defense pact raises tension with Russia
Moscow warns that defense agreement between Nordic states could destabilize region.

Russia has warned that a Nordic defense pact directed against Moscow could damage constructive cooperation and destabilize the region.

Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland agreed on Thursday last week to boost their defense ties and increase solidarity with Baltic States and called Russia "the biggest challenge to European Security."

"Contrary to past years, Northern European military cooperation is now positioning itself against Russia," Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday. "This can undermine positive constructive cooperation."

Defense ministers of the aforementioned Nordic states said in a joint declaration published in the Norwegian daily Aftenposten last Thursday: "(Russia) has shown that it is ready to use military means to achieve their political goals, even when it involves violations of international law."

The Nordic countries agreed to exchange information about their airspace and on how to deal with cyber-attacks. The statement also said the countries would conduct joint military training operations.

"Instead of looking for open and constructive dialogue, in trying to improve security in Northern Europe and on the continent as a whole, which would include a solution to the Ukrainian crisis, a policy of confrontation is being imposed on the peoples of Northern Europe,” Russian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.

The statement comes amid deteriorating relations between Russia and Europe in the wake of the Ukraine crisis and the annexation of Crimea.

The heightened tensions have led the traditionally neutral Scandinavian countries to upgrade their defense capabilities. Finland and Sweden are not members of NATO, but they have increased their cooperation with the Alliance in response to what they call "Russian aggression."

Sweden and Denmark summoned their respective Russian ambassadors in December 2014 after a Russian military plane nearly collided with a Swedish civilian airliner.

Russia was accused of violating Finnish airspace three times in a week in August 2014 and twice previously in May.

Last Modified: 2015-04-13 11:13:54
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