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Finnish Foreign Minister Frustrated Over NATO Military Buildup in Baltic

Sputnik News

16:52 19.03.2015(updated 19:48 19.03.2015)

Finland's Foreign Minister is frustrated over NATO's military buildup in the Baltic region.

Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Erkki Tuomioja voiced his frustration over the buildup of NATO military forces in the Baltic, adding that while he disagrees with elements of Russian security policy, he understands the logic behind it.

Speaking to Finnish media company Yle about the strengthening of NATO presence in Estonia and Latvia, Tuomioja noted that 'this is very sad, a show of force. In the Baltics, we are talking about NATO members wanting the alliance to have a serious presence in the region.'

Commenting on the Russian response, including military exercises bordering Finland, the minister noted that in his view, the exercises are a 'political show,' with no ulterior motive.

'I think that what we're dealing with is to a large extent a political show in the region. [Russian] exercises are not really earth-shattering, but it is clear that they carry a political message. There is no other direct communication. However, in Russia's view, it is a response to NATO sending of new military forces to Russia's borders.'

Tuomiojia stated that Russia may feel itself surrounded, noting that 'perhaps something could have been done differently,' but added that he does not agree with Russia's own show of force.

'Russia must understand that her power politics will not lead to long-term benefit. For Russia, it would be advantageous to have peaceful and stable neighbors, with whom she may have a good relationship. She has one such neighbor –Finland. This is why the Russian-Finnish border is one of the most peaceful and trouble-free.'

Russia began a surprise check of military preparedness in the northwestern region of Murmansk, which borders Finland, earlier this week. The check involves roughly 38,000 personnel, dozens of submarines, ships, helicopters and aircraft carrying out military readiness checks and determining the status of Russia's Northern Fleet and the possibilities for coordination with the armed forces in the Arctic and elsewhere.

Finns Still Opposed to NATO

Earlier this week, a poll by Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat found that 54 percent of Finns believe that joining NATO would be a bad idea, even if Sweden decides to join the alliance. 72 percent noted that if the matter actually came up, it should be put to a nationwide referendum.

Half of those polled also poke against building up European defenses, with 38 percent saying they favored the idea – a 15 percent jump from the previous year.

A similar poll by Finnish policy think tank Elinkeinoelaman Valtuuskunta showed similar results, with 58 percent voicing opposition to joining NATO, 12 percent 'totally agreeing' that the country should join, and 14 percent 'agreeing somewhat'.

Earlier this year, Finnish civil society activists asked the country's Security Police to investigate whether the Finnish Government acted against the country's constitution in bypassing government and parliament officials by signing the NATO Host Nation agreement, which allows for assistance from NATO forces in emergency situations.


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