In a move that could risk infuriating Russia, or turning Finland into another Ukraine, nuclear weapons could be positioned in Finland if the country’s application to join NATO is approved, according to a report from a Finnish newspaper.
Both Finland and Sweden submitted applications to join NATO in May, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to the Helsinki-based newspaper Iltalehti, the bill regarding potential NATO membership the Finnish government will put before parliament doesn’t include any opt-outs for nuclear weapons.
Speaking to the paper, defense sources said Finland’s foreign and defense ministers, Pekka Haavisto and Antti Kaikkonen, gave a “commitment” to NATO in July that they wouldn’t seek “restrictions or national reservations” if Helsinki’s application is accepted.
Foreign policy insiders told Iltalehti this means NATO nuclear weapons could transit through, or be based on, Finnish territory. Additionally, there are no restrictions on establishing NATO bases in the country.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin told Yle, the country’s national broadcasting company, on Saturday why she had not ruled out accepting nuclear weapons on Finnish territory when applying to NATO.
“I’ve considered it very important that we don’t set these kinds of preconditions, or limit our own room for maneuvering, when it comes to permanent bases or nuclear weapons,” Marin said, although she added it was unlikely that nuclear weapons would be stationed on Finnish soil.
The U.S. already has around 100 nuclear weapons in Europe, positioned in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey according to the Federation of American Scientists.