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16 Mar, 2024 00:13

New NATO member supports French position on troops in Ukraine

Finland’s foreign minister has argued that nobody knows how “serious” the conflict could become
New NATO member supports French position on troops in Ukraine

Finland agrees with France that all options must remain on the table to support Kiev's war effort against Moscow – but at this stage Helsinki is not willing to send its own troops to Ukraine or even discuss such a possibility, according to Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen.

French President Emmanuel Macron provoked a backlash in February when he suggested that the US-led military bloc “cannot exclude” the possibility of sending NATO soldiers to help Ukraine. Several member states, including Finland’s then-president, quickly repudiated Macron’s remarks – asserting that they would not put boots on the ground in Ukraine.

However, the Finnish foreign minister argued that all options should be considered if the situation deteriorates for Ukraine, Politico’s National Security Daily newsletter reported on Friday.

“It’s important that we not rule everything out for the long term, because we never know how serious the situation becomes,” Valtonen said.

But the Finnish position is clear: We are not right now sending any troops and not willing to discuss that.

In the meantime, Western backers “could do so much more” to arm Kiev, Valtonen argued. She criticized Washington for dragging its feet on new aid, saying its reputation was at stake.

Finland, which joined NATO last April, has been spending more than the alliance's target of 2% of GDP on its military – and more than 0.6% of GDP on Ukraine.

Finland shares a 1,300 kilometer border with Russia, and Moscow has argued that NATO membership has threatened, not guaranteed, Finnish security. After Finland joined the bloc last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the creation of a new military district bordering the Nordic nation. “There was no trouble” before Finland joined the bloc, he said in December, adding: “now there will be.”

Finland’s newly elected president Alexander Stubb promised at his inauguration to lead the Nordic nation into a “new era” of military partnership with the West, boasting that NATO membership gives his country a “real nuclear deterrent” in the form of American missiles.