Joint U.S.–Sweden military training irks Russia

STOCKHOLM — The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized Sweden and the U.S. for conducting joint military exercises earlier this month, stating that such trainings will not in the interest of the security and stability of Europe.

Sweden, which is not a member of NATO and officially maintains a policy of neutrality, signed a joint defense agreement in September with fellow Scandinavian countries Norway and Finland, titled the Statement of Intent on Enhanced Operational Cooperation, to increase military cooperation in line with the NORDEFCO framework.

Furthermore, the U.S. pledged to protect Sweden against any potential attack.

Accordingly, Sweden agreed to conduct joint military training with U.S. special forces in northern Europe, near the western borders of the Russian Federation.

Swedish Colonel Malin Persson, Head of the Skaraborg Air Wing which took part in the joint exercises, said to military press:

“Strong ties to the US are vital to our and Europe’s security. Particularly concerning our military capability and technical supply. That is why we have close cooperation with the US, which this bilateral exercise demonstrates. The exercise reinforces our capability to conduct advanced air operations and efforts in Sweden and abroad.”

The joint training aroused the ire of the Russian Federation, which considered the training as a threat to its national security, couching its dissatisfaction in vague threats about “Europe’s security and stability”.

On Thursday, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov confirmed Russian willingness to conduct direct consultations with Sweden and other about the security challenges in the region.