Authored by Peter Korzun via The Stratgeic Culture Foundation,
US Defense Secretary James Mattis visited Helsinki on Nov. 6-7 to attend a meeting of the Northern Group, a multilateral forum of 12 countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Before the event, the secretary was received by Finnish President Sauli Niinist and then met his counterparts from Sweden and Finland. This is the first time a US Defense Secretary held talks in this format. Looks like the tripartite format talks are going to become a regular event as a similar meeting was announced to be planned for 2018.
Finnish Defense Minister Jussi Niinist explained that the goal of this format was meant to supplement, rather than replace, Finnish and Swedish bilateral relations with Washington. According to him, no new alliance is being built despite the expanded military cooperation with the United States. The minister also invited the US military to participate in large-scale military drills in 2020 or 2021. According to him, Finland started preparations for a major military exercise of a scale it had not arranged since the end of the Cold War. ‘If there’s a crisis, it will be good for us to practice receiving help,’ Jussi Niinist said. Formally a neutral country, Finland is offering a scenario which envisages receiving US-led NATO reinforcements, like if it were a full-fledged member of the North Atlantic Alliance to be defended in accordance with Article 5 of the Washington Treaty!
Erkki Tuomioja, a former foreign minister and member of the Social Democrat Party, said he believes the defense minister is skirting parliamentary procedures in pushing to host such a large exercise and that he intends to oppose the drills.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 10, 2017.