NATO state signing deals to build fortification on Russian border – media
Finland, which became a NATO member last year, is making quiet arrangements with landowners to enable the nation’s defense forces (FDF) to build barriers on the border with Russia, the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper reported on Friday.
Dozens of these agreements have been reached since the outbreak of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the paper wrote.
The Finnish Defense Forces launched the program six years ago, but the attitude of landowners towards it “has clearly been more positive” recently, Lieutenant Colonel Sauli Hongisto, who is in charge of construction at the FDF, told the outlet.
“People understand what the land use agreement is about,” he said, apparently referring to Moscow’s military operation against Kiev. The deals would allow the Finnish military to build fortifications and hold drills on private land, bypassing the legal requirement for the government to introduce the Emergency Powers Act for such activities to be carried out.
Each landowner, who enters an agreement that spans 20 years, receives a signing bonus of €750. Once construction begins on their land, the individual will be entitled to a payment of €4,800 per hectare used by the military. The damage done to the property in the process of erecting the fortifications will also be compensated, Helsingin Sanomat wrote.
Hongisto clarified that deals don’t necessarily mean that construction on private land “in eastern Finland” and some other parts of the country would begin immediately. By signing them, the FDF is simply seeking “an arrangement for a situation when a potential crisis begins to emerge and defense preparations have to be started, but the necessary powers under the Emergency Powers Act aren’t yet in force,” he explained.
Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometer border with Russia, abandoned its long-standing policy of non-alignment and joined NATO last April. Moscow responded to the move by vowing to adjust its defense posture in the country’s north-west. However, Russia pointed out that it also didn’t view Helsinki’s membership in the US-led military bloc as an existential threat.
Last July, Russia withdrew its consent for the operations of Finland’s consulate general in St Petersburg and kicked out nine Finnish diplomats from the country in response to Helsinki expelling nine Russian embassy workers a few weeks prior.