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15 Dec, 2023 11:39

Russia’s neighbor to sign deal for new US military presence

Under the agreement, American troops will be able to store weapons and supplies at 15 locations in Finland
Russia’s neighbor to sign deal for new US military presence

Finland plans to sign a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with the US, enabling Washington to station troops, store weapons and ammunition in the country, the Finnish Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. The Nordic country became a member of the NATO military bloc earlier this year.

According to a ministry press release, the document is subject to approval by parliament but is expected to be signed on Monday.

Helsinki will open 15 zones and facilities to which Washington will be granted “unimpeded access and use,” according to the statement. The US will be allowed to deploy military equipment, conduct training, and move its aircraft, ships, and vehicles into and out of the specified bases.

Defense Minister Antti Hakkanen said that nuclear weapons were not excluded from the DCA; however, it would not override the Finnish Nuclear Energy Act, which prohibits the import and possession of nuclear weapons on the country’s territory, according to Finnish broadcaster Yle.

The agreement states that all activities under its auspices must be carried out with “full respect” for the law, “including with regard to the stockpiling of certain types of weapons on the territory of Finland.”

Hakkanen said the DCA is “a guarantee from the world’s largest military power that they will defend us” and “forms a pretty tough pre-emption for our neighbor” along with NATO membership, Yle reported.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow regrets the move as Russia and Finland “had excellent relations, there were no problems.”

In November, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow would have to take “retaliatory measures” to counter the emerging “threats to national security” if Helsinki signed the deal with Washington.

Finland announced its decision to join NATO few months after the conflict between Ukraine and Russia escalated in February 2022. In April 2023, it became an official member of the US-led bloc.

Last year, Russian president Vladimir Putin said Finland's decision was “wrong” because there were “no threats” to Helsinki’s security.