UK vows to protect Sweden and Finland if 'tyrant' Vladimir Putin attacks
Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed the new declarations, described by Britain as "a step-change in defence and security cooperation".
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) and Finland's President Sauli Niinisto, at a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on Wednesday, 11 May, 2022. Source: AAP / PA
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has agreed to new deals with Sweden and Finland to bolster European security, pledging to support both countries against any threat from "21st century tyrant" Vladimir Putin.
Mr Johnson signed the new declarations, described by Britain as "a step-change in defence and security cooperation", during visits to both Sweden and Finland on Wednesday.
He said it was "a sad irony" that the security assurance declaration was signed days after marking Victory in Europe Day but was more important than ever under the "grim circumstances" of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
"What it says is that in the event of a disaster, or in the event of an attack on either of us, then we will come to each other's assistance, including with military assistance," Mr Johnson said at a news conference in Helsinki.
Speaking alongside Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson at her Harpsund country retreat on Wednesday, he added: "The many carcasses of Russian tanks that now litter the fields and streets of Ukraine, thanks to Swedish-developed and British-built NLaws (anti-tank weapons), certainly speak to how effective that co-operation can be."
"So, it’s a sad irony that we’ve been forced to discuss how best to fortify our shared defences against the empty conceit of a 21st century tyrant."
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has forced a rethink of how Sweden - and neighbour Finland - safeguard national security.
Both are expected to join NATO, but both are worried they would be vulnerable while their applications are processed, which could take up to a year.
Asked if Finland would be provoking Russia by joining NATO, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said Mr Putin would be to blame for any decision to join the military alliance.
"My response would be that you caused this. Look at the mirror," Mr Niinisto said.
Sweden has also received assurances of support from the United States and Germany.
Speaking earlier alongside the Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Johnson said: "The war in Ukraine is forcing us all to make difficult decisions. But sovereign nations must be free to make those decisions without fear or influence or threat of retaliation."
Britain said the new arrangements would intensify intelligence sharing and accelerate joint military training, exercises and deployments.
Mr Johnson said the nature of any assistance will "depend on the request of the other party". But he said NATO was a defensive alliance.
"NATO poses no threat to anyone. It is there for the purposes of mutual defence," he said at the news conference in Helsinki.
3 min read
Published 12 May 2022 at 12:15pm
Source: Reuters, SBS