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Ten European countries bolster military presence in Baltic Sea

November 29, 2023
In this photo provided by the Swedish Armed Forces on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, troops patrol by both air and sea in the Baltic Sea region
In this photo provided by the Swedish Armed Forces on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, troops patrol by both air and sea in the Baltic Sea region

BRUSSELS — Ten northern European states that form the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) decided on Tuesday to activate a "defence clause" enabling the deployment of additional military assets to protect infrastructure in the Baltic Sea.

The move comes after several incidents in the northern waters.

More "maritime and air capabilities" will be deployed in the heart of the region to aid the "protection of crucial underwater infrastructure, defence ministers of the ten countries said in a statement.

“This is the first time that a defence clause has been activated by the JEF,” they detailed, indicating that their activities would begin “at the beginning of December”.

Focused on operational defence in northern Europe, the JEF is a coalition of 10 countries led by the United Kingdom. It includes Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

“Around twenty warships will be deployed in the Baltic Sea but also in areas of the North Atlantic to take into account the security situation and better protect crucial underwater infrastructure,” Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson said on public channel SVT.

He said the strengthening of military force was needed to confront “a very serious security situation in the world, and in particular in our neighbourhood.”

“We must be able to carry out this type of operation to defend our vital infrastructure, but also to send a signal to Russia,” Jonson added.

JEF countries agreed in October to beef up security in the Baltic Sea after a Finnish underwater gas pipeline was shut down due to a leak caused by "external" action.

Finnish police eventually concluded the damage had been caused by the anchor of a Chinese merchant ship, which had left the area.

But this incident aroused speculation - and raised nerves. In September 2022, the Nord Stream pipelines that transport Russian gas to Western Europe via the Baltic Sea were ruptured, amid a standoff with Moscow over the Ukraine war. — Euronews


November 29, 2023
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