NATO nuclear weapons could potentially be placed on Russia’s border with Finland if Helsinki joins the Western military alliance, Newsweek reported on Wednesday, citing a Finnish newspaper.
The newspaper Iltalehti reported that the bill the Finnish government will put before the country’s parliament on joining NATO doesn’t include any opt-outs for hosting nuclear weapons.
Finnish military sources told the paper that Finland’s foreign minister and defense minister committed to NATO back in July that they wouldn’t seek “restrictions or national reservations” if their application to join the alliance is accepted. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said earlier this month that Finland had “no preconditions” for joining NATO.
While Finland may be willing to host nuclear weapons, it’s unlikely they would be placed in the country after it joins NATO, at least in the near future. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has previously said the alliance has expressed no interest in placing nuclear warheads in Finland.
Currently, the alliance keeps no nuclear warheads in countries that joined NATO after the end of the Cold War, although Poland recently said it’s had discussions with the US on hosting the weapons.
Placing nuclear weapons in Finland, which shares an over 800-mile border with Russia, would be a major provocation toward Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he doesn’t view Sweden and Finland joining NATO as a threat but said he will respond to the expansion of NATO military infrastructure in the region.
Finland and Sweden’s NATO memberships have been ratified by 28 out of 30 alliance members, with only Hungary and Turkey to go. Turkey has threatened to block the Nordic nations from joining if they don’t live up to sign a memorandum signed back in June, but Ankara’s issues seem to be mainly with Sweden, and the new Swedish government has said it’s ready to fulfill the deal.