A new defence cooperation agreement signed by Finland, Sweden and the United States has not brought the two Nordic countries closer to Nato, according to Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö.

In an interview with the Finnish language weekly Talouselämä, Niinistö said he disagrees with the interpretation that the statement of intent on defence policy cooperation signed by Finland, Sweden and the United States last month has taken the two Nordic countries closer to joining Nato.

He also stressed the statement of intent is nothing to be baffled about, reminding that both Finland and Sweden already have a bilateral agreement with the US.

“The statement of intent in itself contains no elements that are not reflected in the bilateral agreements,” he said. “I think it’s clearly wrong to conclude that this sees us somehow re-align ourselves towards Nato.”

“There’s really no need to offer any explanations,” he explained. “Sweden has co-operated with the United States more closely than Finland, but also Finland has had [co-operation]. You could say that we’ve had a very firm relationship with the United States ever since the Hornet acquisition, not least because without the relationship there’d be no flying the Hornets.”

As reported by The Helsinki Times, Niinistö also admitted that one of the factors driving the co-operation is increased Russian military activity in the Baltic Sea.

“The Baltic Sea’s situation is certainly something that’s a concern for all of us. It’s a concern for Nato and the United States, and first and foremost to Sweden. It has put the idea into our all our heads that we also have to think together about what’s going on in the Baltic Sea,” he said.