The US and Finland signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) on Monday that gives the US access to 15 military bases in the Nordic nation, which shares an over 800-mile border with Russia.
According to The Barent’s Observer, the northernmost site in the agreement is a border guard base in Ivalo, a small town located only about 30 miles from the Russian border.
Moscow has warned that it will respond to the expansion of NATO infrastructure in Finland, the alliance’s newest member, by building up military assets in western Russia. The Kremlin said on Friday that the DCA will increase tensions in the region.
“This will certainly lead to tension. We can only regret this,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “We had excellent relations with Finland. No one threatened anyone, there were no problems or complaints against each other. No one infringed on anyone’s interests, there was mutual respect.”
Peskov continued, “But now, when Finland is a NATO member and NATO’s military infrastructure will already enter Finnish territory, this will pose an obvious threat to us.”
The DCA needs to be approved by the Finnish parliament, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that once it goes into effect, “our militaries will be able to collaborate more efficiently and more effectively. Our troops will have more opportunities to train together, and we will bolster NATO’s interoperability.”
The US already signed a similar deal with Sweden, which gives the US access to 17 bases. Sweden is still waiting for Turkey and Hungary to ratify its NATO membership so it can formally abandon its centuries-old policy of neutrality.