Nordic Defense Cooperation: New Cap of the North Agreement
On Tuesday, the Nordic defense ministers met in Oslo within the format NORDEFCO. Norway, Sweden, and Finland signed an updated agreement on increased operational cooperation, especially regarding northern parts of the countries.
Yesterday, on Tuesday, Norway's Minister of Defense Bjørn Arild Gram (Labor) received his Nordic minister colleagues and representatives for a meeting in NORDEFCO, the format for Nordic military cooperation. It includes Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland.
Discussion around the status of the Ukraine war, the security policy situation in the North and further development of the Nordic defense cooperation was on the agenda.
In connection with the meeting, Norway, Sweden, and Finland signed a new cooperation agreement, particularly regarding the Cap of the North – the Northern parts of the three countries (also known as the High North). This is an updated version of an agreement between the three from 2020.
The previous agreement revolves around strengthened coordination of military operations in crisis and conflict. A part of this is developing a joint military situational awareness on the Cap of the North, among other things.
"Swedish and Finnish NATO membership provide new opportunities for defense cooperation in our region," Gram recently said in a press release.
Read more about the brand new agreement here.
A new or strengthened framework for the Nordic defense cooperation has been highly topical since Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine 24th of February.
Since then, there have been frequent meetings between the Nordic defense ministers, chiefs of defense, and other military leaders.
Norway has had the chairmanship of NORDEFCO and passed on the leadership to Sweden during the aforementioned meeting.
At a meeting in Norway in August, the Nordic prime ministers gave their ministers of foreign affairs, ministers of defense, and chiefs of defense, a mandate to carry out broad reviews of existing Nordic security and defense cooperations with the aim of taking new major steps within these areas.
Around the turn of the last month, the chiefs of defense in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark presented a plan for how the countries can coordinate their defenses when the Swedes and the Finns become members of NATO.
In this, cooperation around the reception of allied reinforcements is a central point, among other things, according to Norway's Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen.
The updated agreement signed on Tuesday will probably lead to strengthened cooperation between the three countries' armies and air forces in particular, with the Cap of the North as a common operational area.
Last week, the Finnish Minister of Defense pointed to Sweden especially, but also Norway (as well as the US and the UK) as central partners in the development of army cooperation.
Within the air domain, the establishment of a joint air space awareness in the High North, as well as the use of each other's air bases, has been brought up.
This summer, Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish fighters trained together along the Norwegian coast – in what was the first highly advanced Norwegian-led allied cooperation exercise in which Finland and Sweden also participated.
The Norwegian-led allied exercise series Cold Response, which also takes place every other year and involves air, land, and naval forces, is also planned to be expanded to a Nordic format. Sweden and Finland participated in this year's winter training, where the focus on Nordic cooperation was strong.
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.