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Britain signs defense agreement with Finland, Sweden

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Britain signs defense agreement with Finland, Sweden
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson sign a declaration of political solidarity at the Swedish prime minister's summer residence in Harpsund, Sweden, on Wednesday. Photo by Christine Olsson/EPA-EFE

May 11 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed declarations Wednesday assuring mutual security protections with Finland and Sweden one week ahead of their plans to apply to join NATO.

The declarations include protections against traditional and cyber attacks as the two Nordic countries face growing threats from nearby Russia.

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Johnson traveled to Finland and Sweden to secure the agreements and give remarks. Finnish Prime Minister Sauli Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson signed their respective declarations.

"We are steadfast and unequivocal in our support to both Sweden and Finland, and the signing of these security declarations is a symbol of the everlasting assurance between our nations," Johnson said.

"These are not a short-term stop gap, but a long term commitment to bolster military ties and global stability, and fortify Europe's defenses for generations to come."

The agreements are the strongest bilateral security assurances made by a NATO country and are expected to be in effect for the roughly yearlong process of approving NATO membership for the countries.

The declarations will allow Britain to collaborate with Finland and Sweden on technology and intelligence gathering along with traditional military cooperation. A release from the British government said Johnson will offer to increase personnel and asset deployments to the region.

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The cooperation comes amid increased aggression by Russia as it seeks to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, something the former Soviet republic has sought for years.

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