Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has dismissed the possibility of deploying nuclear weapons or establishment of NATO military bases on her country's soil, saying the alliance itself has not expressed any interest in placing nuclear weapons or permanent bases in Finland.
Marin made the remarks in an interview with the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, which was published on Thursday.
During the interview, Marin said the question of NATO deploying nuclear weapons or opening bases in Finland was not part of Helsinki's membership negotiations with the military alliance.
Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of neighboring Sweden, which like Finland is applying for NATO membership, has also announced that her country does not want permanent NATO bases or nuclear weapons on its territory.
The new development came after Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO following a Russian military offensive against Ukraine and despite Russian warnings against the US-led military alliance’s eastward expansion. All 30 NATO members should unanimously agree for the two historically neutral countries to join the alliance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said their potential membership in NATO poses no direct threat to his country, but Moscow will respond if the US-led alliance bolsters military infrastructure in the two Nordic states.
Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, has expressed opposition to Finnish and Swedish memberships. Ankara accuses Sweden, and to some extent Finland, of providing sanctuary to elements linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as well as the Gulen movement, which Turkey accuses of involvement in a 2016 coup attempt. Both groups are considered “terrorist” outfits by Turkey. The PKK is also on the “terrorist” lists of the US and the EU.
On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara was “not favorable” toward Finland and Sweden joining NATO.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has voiced the bloc’s readiness to defend Finland and Sweden in the event of a Russian attack even before the two countries become NATO members.
Borrell made the remark during a meeting of Europe's defense ministers in Brussels on Tuesday, as he welcomed the two Nordic countries' decision to join the US-led NATO military alliance amid the raging war in Ukraine.
He stated clearly that if Russia were to attack Finland or Sweden as they await joining NATO, they could invoke a joint defense clause in the EU treaty "obliging" other member states to help them by all means, referring to Article 42.7 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty.