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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Obama and his Nordic allies called for anti-Russian sanctions

At the state dinner that the US President gave on Friday, may 13, at the White House in honor of the leaders of the five Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Finland), one of the main topics – alongside the problem of refugees, the environment and terrorism – was Russia.

photo: AP

Barack Obama with Prime Ministers of Sweden (left) and Norway (center)

In the lunch menu included meals with a somewhat Scandinavian accent: salted yellowfin tuna, served on a tray of carved ice, tomato tartare and braised in red wine ribs, and for dessert – caramel-almond millefeuille. Political menu looked less than pleasant, but clearly took the participants more than the delicacies served.

This is the first summit of heads of States and Nordic countries – in America arrived the President of Finland Sauli niinistö, Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan löfven, head of the Danish government of Lars løkke Rasmussen and Icelandic Prime Minister Sigurdur Inga Johansson.

The leaders of the Nordic countries arrived in Washington in the political moment in the U.S. election campaign, driving many American allies the questions with whom they have to deal after the election in 2016. To a large extent this also applies to the concern of the Scandinavian countries before the growing military power of Russia.

“We share the concern of the countries in the region, particularly those that border Russia, in the context of the growing Russian military presence in the area” – quoted by International Business Times the words of senior Director for European Affairs National security Council Charles Kupchan. – We will discuss ways to ensure security in the region generally, as well as we can through dialogue and diplomacy to urge Russia to be more transparent and more restrained and cautious in its military exercises”.

As stated by President Barack Obama, he and the leaders of the five Nordic countries agree that it is necessary to maintain the sanctions regime against Russia.

– This is a very unusual meeting to which Obama invited the leaders of the countries of Northern Europe, – says a leading researcher of the Center for Northern Europe, Institute of Europe, Valeriy Zhuravel. – Northern Europe – an unusual region, in that they skillfully solve all the issues and they have a lot to learn – the same, for example, the issues of social protection. In America this shortage. Denmark and Finland, for example, are among the happiest countries. Thus we hear in the last few years that Sweden and Finland are discussing the issues related to joining NATO. Brussels and Washington are constantly pushing them to do so. In Sweden the right due to the current situation are pushing a neutral country, so she joined the Alliance. Although, according to studies, for NATO membership in Sweden stands for about 34%, 50% – against, the rest undecided. On the other hand, the Swedes spend on defense 1.2% of GDP, and when you join the Alliance, they will have to pay 2%. America is tired of paying for the whole of Europe and to provide European security. As for Finland, despite the fact that traditionally they go with Sweden tandem, at the time, Sweden led the Finns when they joined the EU, we shall discuss this in Helsinki. In Finland a rather difficult economic situation, they are not fully recovered after the 2008 crisis, and the sanctions and counter-sanctions also affected the lives of the population. It should be noted also that located in the Arctic region of the country has created a kind of “mini-NATO”, paying attention not so much on questions of European security and security in the Arctic zone.

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