By Hai Jing
Finland, a new member state of NATO, has recently moved quickly to conclude a bilateral defense agreement with the US that authorizes the latter to implement military deployment, military supply storage and training activities on its land. Some media disclosed that around 5,000 US soldiers will be stationed in Finland in 2023.
This piece of news has aroused wide attention and numerous doubts in the international community and triggered concerns about the escalation of the US-Russian confrontation. The garrison of the US military in Finland will bring about direct and devastating impacts on the security environment of Russia.
First, the US will have easier access to the military resources of Finland. As a military powerhouse in northern Europe, Finland has been committed to reinforcing military cooperation with NATO in recent years, acting more vigorously during the time period before and after formally joining NATO. From the decision to introduce Israel's "David Sling" air and missile defense (AMD) system, to the huge investment in purchase of US-made F-35 fighter jets, and to the joint establishment of Nordic air defense alliance pivoted by about 250 modern fighters with Denmark, Norway and Sweden, Finland is deeply integrating its military force into the combat system of NATO. The acceptance of the US garrison signifies that Finland will be more closely tied with the US in military.
Second, the US military will take full advantage of Finland's geographical value to clamp down on Russia. Finland is the NATO member state with the longest land border with Russia, with a straight-line distance of less than 200 kilometers from Russia's second-largest city St. Petersburg. The US garrison in Finland will dramatically elevate the defense pressure on Russia's borderline from the Kola Peninsula to St. Petersburg and put the Russian naval and air nuclear forces along the Barents Sea under deep surveillance of the US military. As the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea have basically become the "inland sea" of NATO, the presence of US troops in Finland will directly threaten the sea and air navigation between the Russian mainland and Kaliningrad, making this "exclave" more and more isolated.
Third, the regional strategic situation will get more unfavorable to Russia. The US has signed defense cooperation agreements for military garrison with multiple European countries. The deal with Finland will further extend US' military and political influences in Europe. The US and NATO encirclement of Russia is converging at an accelerated pace.
As far as US strategic containment on Russia is concerned, this is just the beginning. The US is not only lobbying and clamoring for the deployment of nuclear weapons in Finland but also devouringly pushing NATO to revise its "forward defense" strategy against Russia, in an attempt to set up more air and missile defense systems and station a larger scale of troops regularly on the eastern flank of NATO for strengthened besiegement and deterrence against Russia.
Finland's entry into NATO and acceptance of US troops represent an upheaval of European geopolitics. Under the guise of "peace plans" and "security guarantee", the US has been engaging in military expansion and even nuclear proliferation actions in an imposing manner. Confronting a dramatically deteriorated geo-political environment, Russia is probably to counter back with tougher moves. Finland, a country that has long enjoyed peaceful development, has become the front line of the US-Russian confrontation. It can be predicted that the US forces will not bring security to Finland for sure, but invite endless military confrontations and even crises in the future.