The joint declaration says that Russia’s resent conduct represents the “biggest challenge to European security”.
The defence ministers of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, as well as the foreign minister of Iceland, signed a joint declaration published in the Norwegian daily Aftenposten that said the Nordic countries “must be prepared to face possible crises or incidents”.
According to the ministers, there needs to be a response to changes in security situation caused by Russia’s involvement in Ukraine and increased Russian military activity in the Baltic region.
“Russia’s conduct represents the biggest challenge to European security,” the ministers wrote. “As a consequence, the security situation around the Nordic countries has significantly worsened during the past year.”
“We must be prepared to face possible crises or incidents,” the declaration said, adding that Russia’s leaders were prepared to use “military means in order to reach their political goals.
“The Russian military is acting provocatively along our borders, and there have been several border violations of countries around the Baltic Sea.”
The Nordic countries, as well as the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, have reported a sharp rise in Russian military activity over the past year, including several airspace violations and incidents of military aircraft flying without their identifying transponders.
The ministers said “Russia’s propaganda and political manoeuvering are contributing to sowing discord” within NATO and the European Union.
Norway, Denmark and Iceland are members of NATO, while Sweden, Denmark and Finland are part of the EU.
The increased Nordic cooperation will include more joint military exercises and intelligence exchanges, as well as stronger defence industry ties.
“Closer cooperation in northern Europe and solidarity with the Baltic states will contribute to stronger security in our region and raise the threshold for possible military incidents,” the ministers said.