Finland may participate in Baltic air policing

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A Finnish F-18 Hornet fighter jet.
A Finnish F-18 Hornet fighter jet. Source: SCANPIX/AFP/KALLE PARKKINEN

Finland's Minister of Defense Antti Häkkänen (National Coalition Party) said that the country would decide Helsinki's participation in NATO peacetime missions come fall. Finland could station troops in the Baltics or participate in the Baltic Air Policing mission.

Häkkänen remarked that Finland is a NATO member and will be taking part in NATO peacetime missions like everyone else," Helsingin Sanomat reported.

"It could be air policing in the Baltics, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and seasonally in Iceland," Häkkänen said.

"Also Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in the Baltics, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia makes up a part of NATO's peacetime tasks," the minister added.

Häkkänen said that Finland will make the relevant decisions this fall, adding that the country is committed to participating in ensuring NATO security.

"Finland demonstrated solidarity and initiative during the Vilnius summit by having its jets safeguard the [Lithuanian] airspace," the minister remarked.

He pointed out that Finland's border with Russia runs along 1,300 kilometers. That is why Finland needs a strong defense force. The Finnish army is mainly comprised of land units.

According to Häkkänen, nuclear deterrence was another reason why Finland decided to join NATO.

Estonia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna said that air defense is key when talking about Finland and Sweden's NATO accession. "Air policing has long been based at Ämari, and if Finland plans to contribute in those terms, it is very important from where we're standing. We also perceive future cooperation in naval defense, while we have not yet had the chance to discuss these matters," Tsahkna said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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