British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said he had agreed new deals with Sweden and Finland to bolster European security, pledging to support both countries' armed forces should they come under attack.
Johnson signed the new declarations, described by Britain as "a step-change in defense and security cooperation," during visits to both Sweden and Finland on Wednesday.
"What it says is that in the event of a disaster, or in the event of an attack on either of us, then we will come to each other's assistance, including with military assistance," Johnson said at a press conference in Helsinki.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has forced a rethink of how Sweden - and neighbor Finland - safeguard national security.
Both are expected to join NATO, but both are worried they would be vulnerable while their applications are processed, which could take up to a year.
Asked if Finland would be provoking Russia by joining NATO, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said Russian President Vladimir Putin would be blame for any decision to the military alliance.
"My response would be that you caused this. Look at the mirror," Niinisto said.
Sweden has also received assurances of support from the U.S. and Germany.
Britain said the new arrangements would intensify intelligence sharing and accelerate joint military training, exercises and deployments.
Johnson said the nature of any assistance will "depend on the request of the other party." But he said NATO was a defensive alliance.
"NATO poses no threat to anyone. It is there for the purposes of mutual defense," he said at the press conference.
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