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Finland, new member of NATO, plans to sign defense agreement with US

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HELSINKI (AP) – Finland, a new member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that borders Russia, is expected to sign a bilateral defense cooperation agreement with the United States next week that will give the United States control over its own defense. You will be able to send troops to Nordic countries to strengthen their defenses. Weapons, military equipment, etc. are stored there.

Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen announced Thursday at a press conference in Helsinki that Defense Minister Antti Hakkenen will sign the so-called Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) in Washington on Monday, December 18th.

The agreement still needs to be approved by Finnish parliamentarians, but it is “very important for Finland’s defense and security,” Hakkenen said, stressing that the agreement is legally binding for both sides.

“In these times, this work has a very strong message. The United States is committed to defending our country even in difficult circumstances,” Hakkenen told reporters.

Finland joined NATO in April after decades of military non-alignment as a direct result of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which began in February 2022. The country of 5.6 million people shares a 1,340-kilometre (830-mile) border with Russia, making it an important border. It is part of NATO’s northeast flank and serves as the European Union’s northern border.

Under the agreement, Finland will provide U.S. soldiers with 15 locations across Northern Europe, from key naval and inland air bases in the south to vast remote military training ranges in Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle. access to military areas and facilities.

Although the U.S. military is allowed a permanent presence and regular exercises in Finland, there are no plans to establish a permanent U.S. military base in Finland, officials said.

Several NATO countries currently have similar bilateral defense agreements with the United States.

Last week, Finland’s Nordic neighbor Sweden, which is on the verge of joining NATO, signed a similar agreement. Alliance member Denmark also plans to do so in the near future.

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