British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday he had reached new agreements with Sweden and Finland to bolster European security, pledging to support the armed forces of both countries if they are attacked.
Johnson signed the new declarations, described by Britain as “a change in defense and security cooperation”, during his visits to Sweden and Finland on Wednesday.
“What it says is that in the event of a catastrophe, or in the event of an attack on either of us, we will come to the aid of the other, including with military assistance,” Johnson told a news conference in Helsinki.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced a rethink of how Sweden – and neighboring Finland – safeguard national security.
Both are expected to join NATO, but both worry about being vulnerable while their applications are processed, which could take up to a year.
Asked if Finland was provoking Russia by joining NATO, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, would be to blame for any decision on the military alliance.
“My answer would be that you caused this. Look in the mirror,” Niinisto said.
Sweden has also received guarantees of support from the United States and Germany.
Britain said the new deals would step up intelligence sharing and speed up joint military training, exercises and deployments.
Johnson said the nature of any assistance “will depend on the request of the other party.” But he added that NATO is a defensive alliance.
“NATO is not a threat to anyone. It is there for mutual defense,” he told the news conference.