Biden Tells Finland $11 Billion Jet Order to Deepen Ties
(Bloomberg) -- Finland is already deepening its defense ties with the world’s top military power just days after choosing a U.S. fighter jet for its $11 billion warplane-fleet revamp.
On a Monday phone call, President Joe Biden told his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto that the procurement of Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 fighter jets would provide “a strong foundation for even closer bilateral defense ties for years to come,” the White House said in a press release.
For the Nordic country that’s stayed out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in deference to neighboring Russia, the acknowledgment brings welcome assurance of U.S. interest in its security amid growing tensions between Russia and western nations over military build-up near the Ukraine border.
A recent demand by Russian President Vladimir Putin that NATO provide guarantees it’s not planning to expand eastward clashes with the military alliance’s policy to keep its door open “to any European country in a position to undertake the commitments and obligations of membership, and contribute to security.” The bloc has further said no third country has a say on whether it welcomes new members.
While European Union member Finland hasn’t applied to join NATO, policy makers contend it has “the option” to do so. Popular opinion in Finland is against membership.
Niinisto told Biden that he “appreciates” that NATO maintains the open-door policy, the Finnish president’s office said in a statement. They also discussed “shared concerns about Russia’s destabilizing military buildup along Ukraine’s border and the importance of transatlantic efforts to de-escalate the situation,” Biden’s office said.
Niinisto and Putin had a “thorough discussion” on the situation at the borders of Ukraine on Tuesday, and Niinisto told the Russian leader that Finland has a stable foreign and security policy line.
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