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Sweden touts 'strategic depth' concept with Finland

09 May 2017

The Swedish Air Force (SwAF) has drawn up a concept of 'strategic depth' that would enable Finland to use its bases should that country have to withdraw its forces in the face of an invasion by Russia.

Briefed to reporters in Stockholm on 8 May, the concept is part of a wider bilateral defence cooperation initiative that has been created under the auspices of the newly formed Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) organisation.

"As a small country allied cooperation is vital to us, that's for sure, so we are working very hard to keep the level of cooperation as high as possible and with as many as possible, including with the UN, the EU, and NATO," Colonel Magnus Liljegren from the SwAF headquarters said, adding, "The other organisation is NORDEFCO with the other Nordic countries, and we have been working with this for a couple of years."

As noted by Col Liljegren, Sweden's chief effort within NORDEFCO is in enhancing cooperation its neighbour, Finland. "The focus for us is in enhancing cooperation with Finland, and this is up to the highest levels [of the Swedish government]. Finland is absolutely our top priority partner right now. We have a lot in common, but we also have to bear in mind that Finland is in a different position to us geographically with a border [with Russia] and historically [having fought against Russia]. Finland is a partner that we think can give us a lot, and they are looking to us in order to increase their operational depth. If they need to withdraw they can move into our country and use our bases, so the more we can work together in a flexible way the better it is," the colonel said.

Examples where cooperation between Sweden and Finland have already increased defence cooperation include the field of secure communications; the use of alternate landing bases in each other's country, and with each flying in the other's airspace on a daily basis; air surveillance cooperation; and also with operational planning.

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Finnish Hornet fighters could operate from Swedish bases under a concept of 'strategic depth' agreed between the two countries. (IHS Markit/Patrick Allen)Finnish Hornet fighters could operate from Swedish bases under a concept of 'strategic depth' agreed between the two countries. (IHS Markit/Patrick Allen)



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