Boris Johnson says Nato poses ‘no threat to anyone’ as Finland and UK sign defence pact

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto shake hands (Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto shake hands (Getty Images)

Boris Johnson said Nato “poses no threat to anyone” as he hailed a new defence agreement with Finland and Sweden.

Speaking alongside Finnish president Sauli Niinisto in Helsinki, Mr Johnson insisted the military alliance exists “for the purposes of mutual defence” despite Vladimir Putin’s claim that its expansion threatens Russia.

His comments came after the UK and Finland signed a landmark security agreement.

Mr Johnson said the nature of assistance in the “event of a disaster or an attack” would depend on “upon the request of the other party”.

Finland is also poised to join Nato as soon as Wednesday, according to local media, in a decision likely to spark anger in Moscow.

Pressed on whether Nato’s expansion would enrage the Kremlin, Mr Johnson responded: “NATO is a defensive alliance. NATO poses no threat to anyone. It is there for the purposes of mutual defence.”

Mr Putin has previously claimed that the eastwards expansion of Nato poses an existential threat to Russia – though only 6 per cent of his country’s borders are with Nato countries.

Both Finland and Sweden have recently seen a surge in public enthusiasm for joining Nato following the war in Ukraine, despite the Kremlin’s warning it will increase its military presence in the Nordic region in retaliation.

Moscow has also raised the prospect of deploying nuclear weapons in the region.

Mr Johnson said the war in Ukraine had “changed the equation of European security”.

“We’ve seen the end of the post-Cold War period, and the invasion of Ukraine sadly has opened a new chapter,” he said.

However, he added Mr Putin’s military campaign had failed due to the “unbreakable spirit of the Ukrainian people” and the resolve of western countries united “in condemnation of this assault on our values”.

Mr Niinisto said the defence agreement with the UK “enormously increases Finnish security” and denied that joining Nato would provoke Russia.

He noted Moscow had last year stated that “Finland and Sweden can’t join Nato”, accusing them of rejecting the idea that his country had its “own will”.

“They are ready to attack their neighbouring country, so... my response would be that ‘you caused this – look at the mirror’,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Johnson met with Sweden’s prime minister Magdalena Andersson in Stockholm to sign a security assurance deal.

Mr Johnson, who said President Putin was “a 21st-century tyrant”, also offered during his one-day visit to increase the deployments of British troops and military assets to the region.

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