Both Sweden and Finland will not rule out hosting NATO nuclear weapons or permanent bases if they join the military alliance, the prime ministers of each nation have said.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and her Swedish counterpart, Ulf Kristersson, made the comments during a joint press conference in Helsinki on Tuesday.
When asked if Finland would allow nuclear weapons, Marin said she didn’t want to “close any doors” and that there should not be “any preconditions” to Finland joining NATO.
Kristersson said that Sweden and Finland will “act jointly” on the issue of nuclear weapons as the two nations have sought NATO membership together. He said the Nordic countries should “embrace” all of NATO’s capabilities.
Separately on Tuesday, Micael Byden, the commander of Sweden’s armed forces, said Stockholm shouldn’t set any preconditions before joining NATO. “To draw red lines even before we’re becoming a member only creates obstacles and frictions,” he said.
Currently, NATO has no nuclear weapons deployed in any countries that have joined the alliance since the end of the Cold War, and it’s unlikely they would be placed in Sweden or Finland in the near future. But the policy could always change, and Poland has said it’s looking to host US nukes and has had discussions with Washington about the issue.
Placing nuclear weapons in Finland would be a major provocation toward Moscow as it shares an over 800-mile border with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he doesn’t view Finland and Sweden joining NATO as a threat but warned he would respond to the expansion of the military alliance’s infrastructure in the region.
Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids have been approved by 28 out of 30 members, with only Hungary and Turkey holding out. Turkish officials are warning they won’t approve their NATO memberships unless they fulfill a deal signed back in June.