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Finland military strength: Inside soon-to-be NATO member's army and arsenal

WorldFinland military strength: Inside soon-to-be NATO member's army and arsenal

Finland announced it would be taking the necessary steps to join NATO this week. The change in foreign policy comes after the war in Ukraine spooked Russia’s neighbouring countries into reconsidering their defence systems.

The previously neutral country has said it “must apply for NATO membership without delay” to shore up its defences against Russia.

A statement released by the Finnish Government on Thursday said the country would be strengthened by becoming a member of NATO.

It read: “As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance.

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay.

READ MORE: Russian troops tipped to amass on Finland border after joining NATO

“We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”

The statement came imminently following a meeting between Boris Johnson and his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto.

The UK pledged to assist Finland in the event of a crisis or attack as part of a bilateral agreement made this week.

Asked if there would be “British boots on the ground” in Finland should a conflict break out, Mr Johnson said military assistance would be offered, but that the “nature of that assistance” would depend upon the “request of the other party”.

Following the announcement of its intention to join NATO, Russia’s foreign ministry said: “Finland’s accession to NATO will cause serious damage to bilateral Russian-Finnish relations and the maintaining of stability and security in the Northern European region.”

It continued: “Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to neutralise the threats to its national security that arise from this.”

The Kremlin did not specify what these retaliations would entail.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia would “definitely” see Finnish membership as a threat.

Peskov said: “The expansion of NATO and the approach of the alliance to our borders does not make the world and our continent more stable and secure.

“Everything will depend on how this process takes place, how far the military infrastructure moves towards our borders.”

A report in a Finnish newspaper that Russia may cut gas supplies to Finland as soon as Friday has been rebuffed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“Most likely, this is another newspaper hoax,” he told a conference call, adding that Gazprom remained a reliable gas supplier.

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