Kremlin comments on possible NATO base in Finland
Russia’s response to a possible NATO base in Finland would be outlined by the military, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday. Peskov was responding to Finnish media reports, which claimed that the mayor of a city close to the Russian border wanted an increased Western military presence there.
“We have discussed on many occasions that relevant plans do exist [in the defense ministry] and that work is underway to ensure our security,” Peskov said, when asked about the comments. Russia’s attitude towards Finland’s looming accession to NATO did not change, he added.
Last week, Finnish broadcaster Yle cited Lappeenranta Mayor Kimmo Jarva as saying that his city and the entire region could benefit from an inflow of investment after the country ascends to NATO. He said the city airport in particular could be used for military purposes.
Lappeenranta, a city of some 70,000 residents, is located in the South Karelia region 20km from the Russian border.
The speaker of the Russian State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, remarked that Jarva was wrong to believe that a NATO facility in his city would make residents safer. On the contrary, military infrastructure would be the primary target in case of a potential conflict, he pointed out in a social media post on Monday.
Finland and fellow Nordic nation Sweden are set to join NATO soon. They requested membership in the wake of the Russian offensive in Ukraine in February. Helsinki and Stockholm broke national traditions of neutrality stretching back decades and even centuries to seek accession to the US-led military bloc.
Both countries noted that they are not obliged to host NATO military bases after joining the alliance.
Moscow said the two nations compromised their safety by joining the bloc, which Russia considers hostile and serving the interest of American hegemony. It said the Russian military will respond accordingly to a resulting shift in the balance of power in the Baltic region.