Finland Ramps Up Military Spending Amid Fears Russia Will Retaliate

Finland has been increasing its military budget amid fears that Russia will retaliate after its Nordic neighbor announced its application to join NATO.

Finland's bid to join the 30-strong military alliance comes amid increasing security concerns across Europe during the Ukraine war.

In a statement issued on Friday, Finland's defense ministry said that the government's second budget for 2022 will allocate around €669.4 million ($706.7 million) in additional funding to the Finnish military, of which €176 million will be allocated to operating expenses and €490 million to fast-start defense equipment procurement.

The government also announced it intends to spend approximately €1.7 billion for the "longer-term procurement" of military materials between 2022-2027. It will fund the acquisition of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, fighter equipment, artillery ammunition, field maintenance material and missiles for naval and air defense, the ministry said.

Marin and Niinisto
Finland has been increasing its military budget amid fears that Russia will retaliate after its Nordic neighbor announced its application to join NATO. In this picture, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, left, and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö give a press conference to announce that Finland will apply for NATO membership at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on May 15, 2022. Alessandro Rampazzo/Getty/AFP

The statement added that state aid to manage, supervise and develop voluntary military training will be increased by just under €3.2 million this year.

Newsweek has contacted the Finnish ministry of defense for comment.

On April 5, the Nordic state said it would increase its defense spending by €2.2 billion over the next four years—including by €788 million in 2023 and then by €408 million a year until 2026. This is about a 70 percent increase from the previous defense budget.

"The war in Europe has fundamentally changed our security environment," Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen said in a statement at the time.

"For this reason we have decided to allocate a significant budgetary increase to the defense forces," he added.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, both Finland and Sweden have stated their intention to end decades of military neutrality to join NATO.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly cited concerns about the eastward expansion of the trans-Atlantic alliance, stating that this is one of the reasons why his country invaded its neighbor. Since the war began nearly three months ago, thousands of people, including civilians, have died and millions more have been displaced.

Finland shares a more than 800-mile border with Russia and Helsinki is becoming increasingly concerned about its security amid Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that there will be "retaliatory steps" if Finland and Sweden join NATO, including the possible deployment of nuclear weapons.

There is concern that Russia may try and respond in the "grey period" between the two countries applying for NATO membership and them formally becoming members of the Western military alliance. Although the pair could be members as soon as this summer, the process will likely take longer than that, as all 30 NATO countries' parliaments need to approve any request for membership.

Another problem is that Turkey has expressed hostility to Finland and Sweden's entry into NATO. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has said "close dialogue continues" with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan over Ankara's threats to derail Helsinki's NATO bid.

Niinistö said on Saturday that he had spoken with Erdogan in an "open and direct phone call."