Russian threat drives Denmark and Sweden to military co-operation

Countries’ armed forces will share intelligence and access to bases

Following a number of incidents suggesting an increased Russian presence in the Baltic region, the Danish and Swedish defence ministries have announced that the two countries will engage in closer military co-operation.

READ MORE: Danish defence minister "deeply concerned" over Russian spy plane incident

On the cards for some time
Peter Hultqvist, the Swedish defence minister, told the Swedish national broadcaster Sveriges Radio there is talk of sharing confidential documents and access to bases for training and refuelling.

“It’s about how the Navy and the Air Force can increase their information yield,” he said.

“But also how we can get better access to each other’s territorial waters and air space.”

Closer co-operation has been on the cards for some time. In mid-December, when a Danish passenger plane avoided colliding with a Russian spy plane close to Malmö, the Danish defence minister, Nicolai Wammen, told Berlingske he would be meeting with his foreign colleagues about the incident.

“I expect we will meet before long to discuss how we can best equip not just Denmark and Sweden, but also the Baltic countries, in relation to how we look after passenger traffic,” Wammen said at the time.

Not a step towards Swedish NATO membership
Unlike Denmark, Sweden is a neutral state and is not a member of NATO. Hultqvist rejected the suggestion that closer military ties with its neighbour would bring Sweden closer to NATO. “It doesn’t have anything to do with that,” he said.

“It’s a co-operation between neighbouring countries. Working with the Nordic countries around the Baltic Sea is the natural and right thing to do.”

The exact details of the plans are expected to be presented at the end of the month.