The ten Chiefs of Defence from the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) nations met in Helsinki today (12 April), hosted by Finland’s Chiefs of Defence, General Timo Kivinen. UK Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin attended the meeting.
The Chiefs of Defence discussed Baltic Sea and the High North security, the future development of the joint force and the groups’ commitment to wider regional stability.
The JEF is a group of like-minded, northern European nations: the UK, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
The Chiefs agreed to continue the enhanced programme of JEF exercises and activities in the High North, Baltic Sea and North Atlantic region. Recently, forces from JEF nations have taken part in operations and exercises together, including in the Baltic Sea and Exercise Joint Viking in the arctic circle in Norway.
UK Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said:
The past year has demonstrated that the security of Europe can never be taken for granted, but it was also the year when the Joint Expeditionary Force came of age. While President Putin has sought to divide, this ten nation partnership is another example of just how strong and united we have become.
It was therefore excellent to meet with my counterparts in Helsinki for the first time since Finland joined NATO. We discussed how the JEF can continue to complement NATO through its focus on the security of the North Atlantic, High North and Baltic Sea, and we considered how we may better coordinate future exercises and operations”.
Finland Chief of Defence General Timo Kivinen said:
JEF’s agile way of planning and operating enhances security in Northern Europe. JEF’s combined capacity and capability is a clear sign of how we stand together, providing reassurance to our populations and deterrence to any would-be adversaries.
In the last year, the JEF has also deployed forces and provided defensive assurances to Finland and Sweden during their accession to NATO. The Chiefs welcomed the news of Finland’s accession to the Alliance last week and committed steadfast support to Sweden becoming full members of NATO. The JEF continues to play an active role in promoting regional security, complementary to NATO’s defence and deterrence posture and international partnerships.
Recent developments in Ukraine and the continued support to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity was also discussed. JEF member nations have made significant commitments and provisions of aid to Ukraine in the last year. Seven JEF partner nations are supporting the training of Ukrainian volunteers in the UK – Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and the UK.
JEF Defence Ministers are expected to meet in Amsterdam, Netherlands in June 2023, where work is expected to be progressed further.