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Wednesday July 24, 2024

Nordic countries to create Arctic military transport corridor

By AFP
June 21, 2024
(From left) Finnish President Alexander Stubb, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, addressing the media during a visit to the Norwegian Armed Forces operational headquarters in Bodo, Norway, on June 20. — REUTERS
(From left) Finnish President Alexander Stubb, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, addressing the media during a visit to the Norwegian Armed Forces' operational headquarters in Bodo, Norway, on June 20. — REUTERS

OSLO: Three Nordic countries have agreed to create an Arctic “military transport corridor” for channelling personnel and equipment to Finland amid tensions with its neighbour Russia, Norway´s prime minister said on Thursday.

Hailed as an “important milestone” by premier Jonas Gahr Store, it is the latest security manoeuvre following Finland and Sweden´s recent accession to Nato.

Russia has boosted its military presence in the Arctic region and Finland and Sweden joined the alliance, citing regional security motives heightened by Moscow´s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

“Today we agree to establish a military transport corridor through Northern Norway, Northern Sweden and Northern Finland,” Store said in statement following a meeting with his Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson and Finnish President Alexander Stubb.

“It will help ensure that personnel and materiel can be quickly moved from Norwegian ports through Sweden and to Finland,” he added.

Finland and Sweden dropped decades of military non-alignment after the Ukraine invasion by applying to join the military alliance -- with Finland becoming a member in April 2023 and Sweden in March of this year.

The harsh Arctic region has gained geopolitical importance in recent years, as melting ice due to global warming looks set to open up vital shipping routes and resources.

In March, Nato also staged war games in the region as part of the four-month Steadfast Defender exercise, the largest drills by the US-led military alliance since the Cold War.

Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has ramped up its capabilities in the Arctic -- home to the powerful Northern Fleet, the Russian navy´s biggest, which includes numerous submarines equipped with nuclear warheads.