Russia dominates Nordic roundtable

07.09.15 | News
At Monday’s roundtable discussion on defence issues hosted by the Nordic Council in Stockholm, Sweden’s Minister of Defence Peter Hultqvist stressed the importance of successful and deepened co-operation within the framework of NORDEFCO, as well as bilateral co-operation such as that which exists between Sweden and Finland.

Peter Hultqvist stressed that effective co-operation emits a strong signal to those around us.

“In our view, the military capability of Sweden, Europe, and the Nordic countries plays a role. We have to demonstrate a united front towards Russia. We also have to work together with the United States as this is the only way to balance the situation with Russia.”

This was the third time that the Nordic Council had organised a roundtable discussion on defence issues. The first was in Helsinki in 2013 when Carl Haglund was Finland’s Minister of Defence. Haglund feels that the discussions are working as intended – as a link between the Nordic ministers of defence and politicians.

“I think the discussions have been valuable,” he said.

Live with the situation

Discussions at Monday’s meeting at the Riksdag in Stockholm were dominated by the situation in Russia and relations between Russia and the West.

Peter Hultqvist said he did not believe in a rapid solution to the tense situation.

“My conclusion is that we have to live with this situation for a long time to come. However, this doesn’t mean accepting the annexation of the Crimea. We must see it as a violation of international law.”

The ministers for defence nevertheless kept the door open to dialogue.

“Obviously we will enter into dialogue with Russia, but we must be clear about what is going on so that we don’t fall into a false sense of security. We mustn’t be naive. Russia’s actions have shaken the order of European security.”

Policy of sanctions against Russia

Chairman of the Nordic Council’s Swedish Delegation Hans Wallmark said that we now have a situation in which Russia is increasingly active in areas adjacent to the Nordic Region, not least militarily. He mentioned violations of airspace, operations both on and under water, the Russian propaganda war, and the kidnapping of an Estonian police officer.

Wallmark stressed that the policy of sanctions against Russia has been successful, although it has consequences for some countries in the West.

“The policy of sanctions is a red rag to Putin,” Wallmark said.

In addition to politicians from the Nordic Council, the roundtable was attended by Sweden’s Supreme Commander Sverker Göranson and the presidiums of the national parliaments’ defence and foreign affairs committees.