Finnish president sees no urgency for permanently stationing NATO troops

Finnish president sees no urgency for permanently stationing NATO troops

COLOGNE, Germany — Russia-adjacent NATO member Finland has no plans to invite U.S. or other alliance troops to be stationed in the country permanently, Finnish President Alexander Stubb said June 6.

“I want to dissolve the idea that we will be bringing in brigades of NATO soldiers or American soldiers here,” Stubb said at a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Helsinki. “That we’re not doing, but we do welcome intensive training.”

Multinational military training events in Finland, stretched to make visits last longer, already carry an air of alliance “presence,” Stubb said, obviating the need for anything more long term. Plus, he argued, Finland has a deep bench of would-be fighters.

“I always remind our international friends that we have 280,000 men and women in reserves that can be mobilized at wartime,” he said.

Finland, a NATO member since April 2023, shares an 830-mile border with Russia. Before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Finnish officials praised the practical cross-border cooperation between the two countries. The border is now closed amid concerns, especially in the Nordic and Baltic nations, that Russia is dialing up acts of sabotage and weaponizing migration at porous border crossings.

Stoltenberg said the alliance has no indication of Russian attack plans on any NATO member at the moment. “And now of course Russia is more than preoccupied with the war in Ukraine,” he said when asked by a reporter about such attack warnings issued by other military leaders. “They actually moved a lot of forces from the vicinity of Finland, the Nordic countries down to Ukraine.”

Stubb agreed. “The best way to prevent war is to prepare for it,” he said. “But the whole idea that a country like Russia would somehow attack or intimidate the biggest military alliance in the world, I simply find rather implausible.”

Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.

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