Iceland’s Foreign Minister, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, has said that Russia should not be surprised about the Nordic Countries’ joint pledge to scale up military cooperation in the wake of increased Russian aggression, which they described as the “biggest challenge to European security”.
“It shouldn’t come as any surprise to the Russians,” Gunnar Bragi told RÚV. “This shift in security and defence operations in Europe. I think they are perfectly aware of the fact that this is a normal reaction to the decisions they made in regards to Crimea and Ukraine.”
This week the defence ministers of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, as well as Iceland’s foreign minister, signed a joint declaration stating the Nordic bloc “must be prepared to face possible crises or incidents.”
The declaration was, according to the ministers, a response to 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.”
The Nordic countries have in the past year reported an increase in Russian military activity.
This includes a number of airspace violations as well as instances in which Russian war planes flew without their identifying transponders.
While Iceland does not have an army, it is a NATO member, as is Norway and Denmark while Finland and Sweden are non-aligned.
Gunnar Bragi told RÚV that the increased Nordic cooperation will include more joint military exercises and intelligence exchanges, as well as stronger defence industry ties.