Finland is increasing military spending amid fears Russia will retaliate

Finland has increased its military budget as Russia fears it will retaliate after its northern neighbor announced its bid to join NATO.

Finland’s bid to join the 30-strong military alliance comes amid mounting security concerns across Europe during the Ukraine war.

In a statement released on Friday, Finland’s Defense Ministry said the government’s second budget for 2022 will allocate around 669.4 million euros ($706.7 million) in additional funding to the Finnish military, of which 176 million euros will go to Operating expenses and 490 million euros are earmarked for the quick start of defense procurement.

The government also announced plans to spend around €1.7 billion between 2022 and 2027 on “longer-term procurement” of military equipment. It will fund the acquisition of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, combat equipment, artillery ammunition, field maintenance supplies and missiles for naval and air defense, the ministry said.

Marin and Niinisto
Finland has increased its military budget as Russia fears it will retaliate after its northern neighbor announced its bid to join NATO. In this picture, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (left) and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö give a press conference to announce that Finland will apply for NATO membership on May 15, 2022 at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.
Alessandro Rampazzo/Getty/AFP

The statement went on to say that state aid for the management, supervision and development of voluntary military training will be increased by nearly €3.2 million this year.

news week has asked the Finnish Ministry of Defense for comment.

On April 5, the Nordic state announced it would increase its defense spending by €2.2 billion over the next four years – including by €788 million in 2023 and then by €408 million per year through 2026. That represents an increase of about 70 percent of the previous defense budget.

“The war in Europe has fundamentally changed our security environment,” Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen said in a statement at the time.

“For this reason, we have decided to allocate a significant budget increase to the defense forces,” he added.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, both Finland and Sweden have declared their intention to end decades of military neutrality in order to join NATO.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly raised concerns about the eastward expansion of the transatlantic alliance, saying it is one of the reasons his country invaded its neighbors. Since the war began almost three months ago, thousands of people, including civilians, have died and millions more have been displaced.

Finland shares more than 800 miles of border with Russia, and Helsinki has growing concerns for its security amid Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that there will be “retaliatory measures” if Finland and Sweden join NATO, including the possible deployment of nuclear weapons.

There are concerns that Russia may seek to react in the “grey period” between the two countries’ bid for NATO membership and their formal membership of the Western military alliance. Although the two could become members as early as this summer, the process will likely take longer as the parliaments of all 30 NATO countries have to approve any application for membership.

Another problem is that Turkey has expressed hostility towards Finland and Sweden joining NATO. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said “close dialogue continues” with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan over Ankara’s threats to derail Helsinki’s NATO bid.

Niinistö said on Saturday that he spoke to Erdogan in an “open and direct phone call”.

https://www.newsweek.com/finland-ramps-military-spending-amid-fears-russia-will-retaliate-1708616 Finland is increasing military spending amid fears Russia will retaliate

Rick Schindler

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