Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, said on Thursday, May 19, that Helsinki is opposed to NATO deploying nuclear weapons or establishing bases inside Finland if it joins the military alliance. Swedish Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, has also said Sweden doesn’t plan on hosting NATO nuclear weapons or bases.
Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO on May 18, but Turkey blocked the alliance from advancing on talks about their membership due to their alleged support for the PKK and the export controls they imposed on Turkey.
The situation is getting tense, as even though the US, the UK, 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 (in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey).
While the two nations reportedly “have no interest” in nuclear weapons or bases, NATO could still send troops and other military equipment to the countries on a rotational basis.
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 accepted to NATO.
“There can be no more talk of any nuclear–free status for the Baltic [region],” Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, said.
The US and its NATO allies do not disclose exact figures for its European-deployed stockpiles. In 2021, it is estimated that there are 100 US-owned nuclear weapons stored in five NATO member states across six bases:
- Kleine Brogel in Belgium,
- Büchel Air Base in Germany,
- Aviano & Ghedi Air Bases in Italy,
- Volkel Air Base in the Netherlands,
- Incirlik in Turkey.
As reported, the weapons are not deployed on aircraft, but kept in WS3 underground vaults in national airbases. To be used, the bombs would be loaded onto dual-capable NATO-designated fighters.