Finland & Sweden Seek To Calm Russia By Ruling Out NATO Bases & Nuke-Hosting

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Thursday that Helsinki is opposed to NATO deploying nuclear weapons or establishing bases inside Finland if it joins the military alliance.

Marin said she didn’t think there was much interest in NATO for nuclear deployments or permanent bases inside Finland. "Nor do I think there is any interest in deploying nuclear weapons or opening NATO bases in Finland," she emphasized. Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has also said Sweden doesn’t plan on hosting NATO nuclear weapons or bases.

Nuclear submarine operating in Arctic waters
Nuclear submarine operating in Arctic waters, file image

While the US, Britain, and France are the only NATO members with their own nuclear stockpiles, US nuclear weapons are deployed in other NATO states under a nuclear-sharing agreement. Under the agreement, there are US nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Moscow will respond to the expansion of NATO military infrastructure inside Sweden or Finland. Top Kremlin officials have recently warned of a nuclear build-up in the Baltics if Finland is admitted into NATO, as Newsweek reports:

Russia has stated that if Sweden and Finland join NATO, it would move nuclear weapons closer to the two countries. "There can be no more talk of any nuclear–free status for the Baltic [region]," said Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added that Putin had already ordered the military to boost its forces opposite Europe.

While the two nations have no interest in nuclear weapons or bases, NATO could still send troops and other military equipment to the countries on a rotational basis.

Reported locations of some of NATO's nuclear stockpile under US sharing agreement
Reported locations of some of NATO's nuclear stockpile under US sharing agreement, via Daily Mail

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO on Wednesday, but Turkey blocked the alliance from holding talks on their membership. Ankara is opposed to the Nordic countries joining due to their alleged support for the PKK and the export controls they imposed on Turkey. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said Thursday that he’s working on getting Turkey to change its position.

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A briefing by the global monitor Arms Control Center includes the following estimates on NATO nukes:

How Many?

The United States and its NATO allies do not disclose exact figures for its European-deployed stockpiles. In 2021, it is estimated that there are 100 U.S.-owned nuclear weapons stored in five NATO member states across six bases: Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Büchel Air Base in Germany, Aviano and Ghedi Air Bases in Italy, Volkel Air Base in the Netherlands, and Incirlik in Turkey. The weapons are not armed or deployed on aircraft; they are instead kept in WS3 underground vaults in national airbases, and the Permissive Action Link (PAL) codes used to arm them remain in American hands. To be used, the bombs would be loaded onto dual-capable NATO-designated fighters. Each country is in the process of modernizing its nuclear-capable fighters to either the F-35A, the F-18 Super Hornet, or the Eurofighter Typhoon.

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