HELSINKI — Finland has denied any possibility that the currently non-aligned country Nordic State will consider harboring nuclear weapons on its territory once a member of NATO.
The rebuttal comes as Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s government presented new proposals to strengthen the country’s 830-mile (1,340 km) border with Russia.
Stressing the need to maintain “good neighborly relations” with Russia, Sauli Niinistö, Finnish President and Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish Armed Forces (FAF), said the siting of nuclear weapons on its territory had never been suggested or discussed as a prerequisite. condition of Finland’s membership of the alliance.
“Finland does not intend to allow the presence of nuclear weapons on its territory. There is no indication that any NATO country is offering nuclear weapons to Finland,” Niinistö said.
Some 28 Member States have so far issued individual statements indicating that they believe that Finland and Sweden qualify membership of the alliance and are entitled to NATO support under Article 5.
The prospect of nuclear weapons being located in Finland after NATO membership is “absurd”, said Mika Aaltola, director of the Helsinki-based Finnish Institute for International Affairs (Ulkopoliittinen Instituutti).
“No nuclear weapons will be brought to Finland. Neither NATO nor Finland have such aspirations. The doctrines of the United States and other member countries do not include any offer of nuclear weapons to Finland. moreover, Finland has no desire to place nuclear weapons on its soil,” Aaltola said.
Like Finland, Sweden has also made it clear that it is not prepared to agree to preconditions on nuclear weapons before joining NATO.
“We will not set any preconditions. Sweden has exactly the same approach as Finland with regard to the question of the implantation of nuclear weapons in our countries. Naturally, we embrace all NATO capabilities on nuclear weapons, but on positioning, Sweden and Finland share the same conclusions and are on the same wavelength,” said Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.
Finland, ahead of its impending NATO membership, has planned to spend around $2 billion by 2025 to bolster security along its vast border with Russia. The defense budget will be expanded to include new projects to strengthen border security, the acquisition of new surveillance aircraft, the expansion of border guards and the wider use of drones, surveillance robots security and electronic sensor technologies.
In the first stage, $150 million in funding has been earmarked for building sensor fences along parts of Finland’s eastern border with Russia in 2023. The spending, which is part of a series new measures taken by Finland to repel hybrid threats emanating from Russia, has been integrated into the border guard budget for 2023.
Border Guards are building a two-mile, $6.2 million “trial barrier” along a section of its eastern border with Russia. Ultimately, the plan to improve border security is expected to result in the construction of up to 200 miles of new sensor-equipped fences along Finland’s border with Russia.
The Border Guard’s hefty budget for 2023 includes plans to upgrade its Air Patrol Squadron (APS). One area of investment is to replace the Border Guard’s two German-made Dornier 228 turboprop surveillance aircraft, introduced in 1995, with two new manned multi-role aircraft.
The government has allocated a budget of $170 million to border guards to purchase two new surveillance planes. A supply contract is expected to be completed in 2023 and the aircraft is scheduled for deployment in 2026. The switch to jet propulsion will allow Border Guard APS to operate the aircraft for longer periods and to patrol larger areas.
The new multirole aircraft will be equipped with advanced radar and camera systems, radio interceptors and jammers making the aircraft capable of engaging in signals intelligence, said Major Kenneth Rosenqvist, director of procurement for the aircraft project. monitoring.
“The security environment has changed rapidly due to the current war situation in Ukraine. We have a much greater need to improve our capabilities,” Rosenqvist said.
The Finnish government has allocated $1.7 billion to the military for the purchase of defense equipment in 2023. This represents an increase of $800 million from the defense equipment purchase budget for 2022.
Gerard O’Dwyer is the Scandinavian affairs correspondent for Defense News.