Arctic military transport corridor to be created amid Finland-Russia tensions

Jonas Gahr Store, Alexander Stubb and Ulf Kristersson
Jonas Gahr Store, prime minister of Norway, (left), Ulf Kristersson, prime minister of Sweden, (centre) and Alexander Stubb, president of Finland, (right) on a boat trip on the sidelines of discussions on civil and military cooperation - JAN LANGHAUG/NTB/AFP via Getty Images

Three Nordic countries have agreed to create an Arctic “military transport corridor” for channelling personnel and equipment to Finland amid tensions with its neighbour Russia, Norway’s prime minister said Thursday.

Hailed as an “important milestone” by premier Jonas Gahr Store, it is the latest security manoeuvre following Finland and Sweden’s recent accession to Nato.

Russia has boosted its military presence in the Arctic region and Finland and Sweden joined the alliance, citing regional security motives heightened by Moscow’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

“Today we agree to establish a military transport corridor through northern Norway, northern Sweden and northern Finland,” Mr Store said following a meeting with Ulf Kristersson, his Swedish counterpart, and Alexander Stubb, the Finnish president.

“It will help ensure that personnel and materiel can be quickly moved from Norwegian ports through Sweden and to Finland,” he added.

The three Nordic leaders onboard a coastguard vessel in Bodo in Norway
The three Nordic leaders onboard a coastguard vessel in Bodo in Norway - JAN LANGHAUG/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Finland and Sweden dropped decades of military non-alignment after the Ukraine invasion by applying to join the military alliance - with Finland becoming a member in April 2023 and Sweden in March of this year.

The harsh Arctic region has gained geopolitical importance in recent years as melting ice due to global warming looks set to open up vital shipping routes and resources.

In March, Nato also staged war games in the region as part of the four-month Steadfast Defender exercise, the largest drills by the US-led military alliance since the Cold War.

Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has ramped up its capabilities in the Arctic - home to the powerful Northern Fleet, its navy’s biggest, which includes numerous submarines equipped with nuclear warheads.

The Norwegian government said in its statement that the countries’ defence ministers would lead the work of establishing the corridor.

“Together, they will identify bottlenecks, update necessary regulations and legislation, and invest in the necessary infrastructure to ensure fast and efficient military mobility,” the statement said.