Russian neighbor outlines stance on hosting NATO nuclear weapons

NATO could establish permanent bases or deploy nuclear weapons in Finland once the country joins the alliance, Prime Minister Sanna Marin has said, although she added that basing nukes in the Nordic nation is unlikely.

“I’ve considered it very important that we don’t set these kinds of pre-conditions, or limit our own room for maneuvering, when it comes to permanent bases or nuclear weapons,” Marin said on Finland’s Yle TV1 channel on Saturday.

She promptly qualified her statement by adding that such a development was not necessarily on the cards.

Earlier this week, Helsinki-based newspaper Iltalehti claimed that the bill on Finland’s NATO membership does not contain any opt-outs in relation to nuclear weapons. The government is set to present the legislation to parliament for consideration.

The paper, citing anonymous defense sources, wrote that in July Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen promised the military alliance’s officials that Helsinki would not impose any “restrictions or national reservations,” if its candidacy were approved.

This, Iltalehti suggested, means that NATO’s nuclear weapons could transit through or be deployed on Finnish soil, much like its permanent military bases.

When asked about the prospect of Finland actually joining NATO any time soon, Marin expressed hope that Hungary and Türkiye would “swiftly” give the green light to its accession bid to NATO, which the Nordic nation, along with Sweden, officially lodged on May 18.

The consent of all 30 member states is needed for the two countries to be accepted into the military alliance.

Helsinki and Stockholm, which had both maintained neutrality for decades, cited Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine as the reason for their landmark decision.

Commenting on Finland’s and Sweden’s potential accession to NATO, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov warned in June that the move would further escalate tensions between Moscow and the West.

Finland and Russia have a 1,340km land border.

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