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22 June, 06:00 PM

Finland ready to fight Russia if attacked, says defense chief

Finland has prepared for decades for a Russian attack and would put up stiff resistance should one occur, its armed forces chief, General Timo Kivinen, said in an interview with the Reuters news agency on June 22.

"We have systematically developed our military defense precisely for the type of warfare that is being waged there (in Ukraine), with a massive use of firepower, armored forces and also air forces," Kivinen said.

Finland has fought two wars in the 1940s against its eastern neighbor, with which it shares a 1,300-kilometer (810-mile) border, Reuters noted.

Kivinen also welcomed Finland's decision to apply to join NATO. NATO membership would allow Finland to boost its early warning capacity by being part of the alliance's joint airspace control, he said.

Finland would also benefit from the deterrence of being part of an alliance in which an attack on one member is an attack on all its members, the official said.

Nevertheless, he said, "the main responsibility for Finland's defense will still be borne by Finland."

On May 18, Finland and Sweden submitted applications for NATO membership, signed by the foreign ministers. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had previously assured that the countries would join NATO "with open arms" after they submitted their applications.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in turn said that his country would not support Sweden's and Finland's plans to join the Alliance.

According to media reports, Turkey demands that Sweden and Finland publicly condemn the Kurdistan Workers' Party (KWP), recognize it and the Kurdish People's Self-Defense Forces as terrorist organizations, and even stop the activities of KWP supporters who, according to Ankara, are operating in the countries. Sweden and Finland claim they condemn terrorism and are open to dialogue.

At the same time, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is threatening "retaliatory measures" against the emergence of NATO military infrastructure in Finland and Sweden. He also called Finland's renunciation of neutrality "wrong."

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