11 May 2022 | NEWS

The UK and Sweden have signed a security pact today as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues.

The Prime Minister appeared alongside his Swedish counterpart to sign the pact between the two nations to ensure mutual military support, should either country be attacked. The Prime Minister is expected to sign a similar declaration with Finland later on today.

The deal comes amidst ongoing Russian attacks on Ukraine, with Finland and Sweden seeking to ensure that they do not remain vulnerable to similar attacks. Neither Sweden nor Finland are currently members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) alliance.

Under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, any attack against one member of the alliance will be considered “an attack on all”. While the new military pact between the UK and Sweden does not replicate these terms, it does indicate positive signals from the former in respect of the latter’s consideration of accelerating its pathway towards NATO membership.

Boris Johnson met Swedish leader Magdalena Andersson at her Harpsund country residence, where they both signed the accord. The Prime Minister will now meet Finnish President Sauli Niinisto for similar discussions around mutual military co-operation.

Mr Johnson today denied suggestions that this was a short-term collaboration, arguing that it was a pact for “generations to come”. He stated before the beginning of his speech: “We are steadfast and unequivocal in our support to both Sweden and Finland and the signing of these security declarations is a symbol of the everlasting assurance between our nations.

“These are not a short-term stop-gap, but a long-term commitment to bolster military ties and global stability, and fortify Europe’s defences for generations to come.”

Although both Sweden and Finland have a long history of neutrality in wartime, both countries have been seeing popular support for joining the NATO alliance rising rapidly since Russia invaded Ukraine this February.

Swedish Prime Minister Ms Andersson said in a statement at a joint press conference between the leaders that “the Prime Pinister and I have agreed to face challenges in peace, crisis and conflict together. And if either country should suffer a disaster or an attack, the United Kingdom and Sweden will assist each other in a variety of ways. Support will be given on request from the affected country and may include military resources.”

Russia had previous warned Sweden and Finland against joining the NATO alliance. Last month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the press that the NATO alliance “remains a tool geared towards confrontation”. He also said that it “is not that kind of alliance which ensures peace and stability, and its further expansion will not bring additional security to the European continent”.

On the prospect of Sweden and Finland joining NATO, Boris Johnson said: “The war in Ukraine is forcing us all to make difficult decisions.

“Sovereign nations must be free to make those decisions without fear or influence or threat of retaliation.”

He added that any ultimate accession would be “a matter for Sweden”.

Following the conference, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said that following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both leaders had “underlined that relations with Putin could never be normalised” and that the invasion of Ukraine had “fundamentally changed international security architecture”.

Jonathan is a political reporter and commentator. His interests include philosophy and sociology.

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