By Kyle Anzalone / Antiwar.com
Washington and Helsinki are working on a new deal to govern the military relationship between the two nations. Finland recently became the thirty-first member of NATO, doubling the alliance’s border with Russia.
According to YLE News, Finnish state media, Helsinki and Washington are negotiating a new Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA). YLE said the new deal would be a “significant departure from its previous” DCA with the US.
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Finland held a prolonged policy of official neutrality prior to joining NATO earlier this year. However, Helsinki established deep ties with the bloc over recent decades. The new DCA will expand America’s military presence to several Finnish bases, including ports and airports.
The outlet reports the new DCA will “permit the presence of foreign troops for extended periods, specifically for conventional military exercises…[and] grant US military personnel access to facilities and areas within Finland for training, weapons storage, and equipment maintenance.”
The war games and NATO soldiers will be viewed as a provocation by Russia, which shares an 800 miles border with Finland. Helsinki already hosts NATO troops for military drills near the Russian border.
When Helsinki announced its intention to join the North Atlantic bloc last year, the Kremlin warned about additional international troop deployments in Finland. Last week, Moscow announced it would deploy additional military assets to its border with NATO members.
Finnish negotiations have expressed some reservations about expanding the DCA with the US. YLE explains, “noting that the agreement excludes nuclear weapons,” and Helsinki wants all integration troops deployments to be labeled as temporary.