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    Have Nordic Countries Surrendered their Historic Neutrality by Signing Military Deals with the United States?

    GovernanceGlobal GovernanceHave Nordic Countries Surrendered their Historic Neutrality by Signing...
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    Have Nordic Countries Surrendered their Historic Neutrality by Signing Military Deals with the United States?

    In less than a month, the US has signed three separate defense agreements with countries like Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, to ramp up the militarization in the Nordic region.

    Peace activists, together with local and regional communist groups have protested the recent move by the governments of Denmark, Finland, and Sweden to sign military deals with the United States government. The say this completely reverses their traditional policy of military neutrality. The agreements will give the US unrestricted military access to many bases in these countries and permission to the US to station military personnel, vehicles, and armaments.

    Denmark

    On December 19, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced that the US and Denmark reached an agreement on defense cooperation intended to strengthen “security collaboration” and “deepen partnership ties.” On December 20, the Danish communist publication Dagbladet Arbejderen accused that the defense agreement is “irrevocable for ten years” and gives the US military exclusive access to selected locations in Denmark where Danish authorities will be barred.

    The Communist Party of Denmark (DKP) pointed out that through the agreement the US will get access and control of the Danish bases including Skrydstrup, Karup, and Aalborg airports and the US will now be able to wage war directly from Danish territory and “create insecurity in Denmark and for the Danish people.”

    The DKP called on the people to protest the agreement and to make sure that the agreement gets defeated in the parliament as it had to be ratified by the Danish parliament.

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    Finland

    Meanwhile, Finland also boosted its ties with the US, as Minister of Defense Antti Häkkänen and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed a defense cooperation agreement in Washington DC on December 18.

    As per the agreement, around 15 strategic sites will now become accessible to the US military which includes barrack areas of the Finnish Border Guard in Ivalo, along with air bases in Karelia in Kuopio-Rissala, Lapland in Rovaniemi, Satakunta in Tampere-Pirkkala and the Air War College Air Base in Jyväskylä-Tikkakoski, the Upinniemi naval base, and the garrison area in Kirkkonummi, among other places.

    On December 20, the Communist Party of Finland (SKP) accused that the US bases would bring problems, not security to Finland. The party has stated that “the agreement sets no limits or restrictions on the number and type of troops and weapons the US can deploy in Finland. It does not even contain any restrictions on nuclear weapons. The stationing of US troops, weapons systems, and bases in Finland, close to strategically important Russian centers, does not increase Finland’s security but increases tensions in the region.”

    “This is particularly the case because Finland and the US do not want to impose any restrictions on the number of troops, weapons, or even nuclear weapons. It is, therefore, above all an attempt by the US to involve Finland and the other Nordic countries in its superpower strategy and to militarize the Nordic area.”

    Earlier, citing the “security threats emanated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine” in 2022, Finland applied for NATO membership and joined the US-led war alliance on April 4, 2023, as a full member, abandoning their decades-long policy of military neutrality. Finland became the 31st member of NATO, which was formed as a military alliance in 1951 in the context of the Cold War to counter the rising influence of the USSR in Europe and elsewhere.

    NATO has expanded consistently even after the dissolution of the USSR and the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s. Russia, the successor state of the USSR, objects to NATO’s eastward expansion especially at its borders because it threatens its national security.

    In response to NATO’s increasing footprint in Finland, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced on December 17 that Russia would revive the “Leningrad Military District” on the Finnish border in northwest Russia and would transfer and station a significant number of troops there.

    On December 20, the Communist Workers’ Party (KTP) in Finland stated that “The mission of the United States Armed Forces is not defensive in Finland either. Their task, together with the Finnish army, is to harass Russia in every way. An official statement from the Russian administration was already received about this task, according to which Russia considers the Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) a threat to the country.”

    “The agreement will still go to Parliament, but its rejection is unlikely, as all parliamentary parties are NATO parties and are floundering in the United States. The next move of the conspiracy to drive Finland and Finns to war is the introduction of US B-52 bombers and nuclear weapons to Finnish soil. Finland’s independence has been lost in just a few years. The new hosts now come from the United States and the military alliance NATO,” the KTP added.

    Last month, on November 25, the Helsinki Peace Action Group organized a demonstration in the Finnish capital against the opening of Finnish military bases to foreign powers.

    Sweden

    Earlier in the month, on December 5, Sweden also signed a defense cooperation agreement with the US, bolstering its bid for NATO membership which is yet to be endorsed by NATO member state Turkey. Communists in Sweden have also criticized the likely accession of Sweden to the US-led NATO war alliance as its 32nd member.

    On December 13, Swedish communist publication Proletären stated that through the defense cooperation agreement “United States will be able to station personnel and weapon systems in 17 locations from north to south in Sweden.”

    The Communist Party of Sweden slammed the signing of the defense cooperation agreement by Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonsson, together with his American counterpart, Lloyd Austin, as treason, because “without any discussions, the Swedish government puts its people in danger by connecting with the country that started most wars after World War II.”

    On December 24, Andreas Sörensen from the Communist Party of Sweden (SKP) told Peoples Dispatch that “the complete integration of Sweden into the Euro-Atlantic imperialist bloc is a sign of the sharpening contradictions within the imperialist system, in which the bourgeoisie of all countries seek to defend and expand their positions even more aggressively.”

    “This policy of the Swedish bourgeoisie, to openly align with US imperialism poses a real danger to the working people of not only Sweden but of the region, as it escalates the contradictions in the area,” Sörensen added. “However, the solution is not found in ideas of national sovereignty, but in the class struggle against the bourgeoisie, whose aggressive policy is being fulfilled.”

    Norway led the way

    Back in 2022, the Norwegian Parliament, the Storting, dominated by the ruling coalition of Labor Party and Center Party, approved the Supplementary Defense Cooperation Agreement (SDCA) between Norway and the US, which was finalized earlier by the conservative government led by Erna Solberg in April 2021.

    With the agreement signed on June 3, 2022, the US armed forces got exclusive rights to use parts of military air stations and airfields at Rygge, Sola, and Evenes, along with the Ramsund Naval Station. The agreement allows the US unhindered access to the areas as well as permitting them to build military infrastructure.

    The Rødt (Red) Party and Communist Party of Norway (NKP) opposed the defense agreement and organized protests.

    Scandinavia’s historic neutrality

    Most of the Scandinavian countries especially Sweden and Finland had pursued a policy of neutrality towards the US and the erstwhile Soviet Union, and later Russia, since the onset of the Cold War.

    Despite significant pressure from centrist and center-right sections to join NATO, Finland and Sweden had been committed to formal neutrality for a long time. However the ongoing war in Ukraine has led to a rise in militarism and Russophobia in the region, and sections within the social democratic parties called for NATO membership and an enhanced defense cooperation with the US.

    NATO has already increased its military footprint in the Baltic region in the garb of aiding Ukraine in the war against Russia. Such military brinkmanship from the US and the expansionist maneuvers of NATO are meant to militarily encircle Russia and drain Russia’s resources in a prolonged conflict in Ukraine.

    Image: Photo: Antti Hakkanen / Facebook

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