Sweden and Finland Have Negotiated Bilateral Defense Agreements With the USA

Sweden's MoD Pål Jonson (far left) and MFA Tobias Billström (third from the left) recently went to Helsinki for meetings with their Finnish colleagues, MoD Antti Häkkänen and MFA Elina Valtonen. (Photo: Kimmo Räisänen/Finland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

"We also go hand in hand when it comes to bilateral defense cooperation with the US," says Sweden's MoD Pål Jonson. He refers to Finland and Sweden having concluded negotiations with the US on bilateral defense cooperation agreements and are looking forward to a strong American presence in the region. 

Norsk versjon

Last Wednesday, Sweden and Finland's Ministers of Defense and Ministers of Foreign Affairs met in Helsinki to discuss various joint matters.

The two countries applied for NATO membership together last year and continue having close security and defense cooperation.

Now, both countries have negotiated bilateral defense agreements with the US, says Sweden's MoD Pål Jonson (Moderates) at a press conference.

"Sweden and Finland's cooperation is rock solid. We also go hand in hand regarding bilateral defense cooperation with the US. We concluded the negotiations on the DCAs [Defence Cooperation Agreement, ed. note] the same week. We see that these agreements will be very important to strengthen transatlantic connections – and to have a strong American military presence in our region," says Jonson and continues:

"This will not only be good for our bilateral cooperation but also NATO and the implementation of the alliance's regional plans, as well as its defense and deterrence agenda."

Nordic context

Finland has negotiated with Washington D.C. for such a deal since August 2022, while Sweden began such negotiations in January this year.

In a Nordic context, they are following in Norway's footsteps, whose new defense agreement with the US entered into force in the summer of 2022. Through this agreement, four military bases, of which two are in Northern Norway, have become "agreed areas" – which American forces have the right to access and use.

Denmark is still negotiating with the US for the same type of agreement.

This type of agreement is meant to provide quicker and more effective American support in the event of a crisis and war. Still, it can also facilitate an unpredictable presence in the Nordic region.

Next step

Finland and Sweden concluded their DCA negotiations with the American side at the end of October.

The Finns have communicated the most about the process. A delegation appointed by the country's president, Sauli Niinistö, has conducted a total of five negotiation rounds with the US – under the guidance of Niinistö himself and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy. 

The Finnish Parliament has also been regularly informed about the status and contents of the negotiations.

“The negotiations were held in a collaborative spirit. This draft agreement will now proceed to the political process,” says Finland’s Chief Negotiator Mikael Antell, Deputy Director General at the Finnish Foreign Ministry.

The contents of both the Finnish-American and the Swedish-American agreements will be final and made public once the parties sign them. Then, the agreements are to be processed by the parliaments, who must approve them before they can enter into force.

From the Finnish side, it has already been revealed that Finland and the US have agreed on more joint training activities.

Also read