Sweden, Finland might contribute to new NATO brigade in Latvia

Latvia's military cooperation with Sweden and Finland is becoming deeper and deeper, and it is possible both countries could contibute to new brigade-strength NATO forces stationed in Latvia, Defense Minister Minister Artis Pabriks told the LETA newswire June 30.

At the Madrid NATO summit, an agreement has been reached on the admission of Sweden and Finland to NATO, and Latvia has reached an agreement with Canada on boosting and developing NATO's enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia by increasing it to the size of a brigade – likely double its current strength of around 1,800 troops.

Asked what role Sweden and Finland might play in the multinational brigade that will be formed in Latvia, the defense minister said that before the NATO summit he approached Sweden and partly also Finland, counting on the alliance's unanimity on the two countries' NATO membership.

"We are in the process of negotiations with Sweden not only about the creation of the brigade but also about cooperation on the strategic plan. The current leadership of the Defense Ministry in Stockholm is very friendly to us. Whether Sweden will be part of this brigade, I don't know, but at any rate we have obtained a much needed ally," said Pabriks.

Both Sweden and Finland, along with Latvia and other northern European countries are already involved in the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force.

For a long time Finland and Sweden had been reserved about joining NATO, but the war unleashed by Russia in Ukraine has prompted the two countries to apply to join the alliance. They are likely to become full members quickly.

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