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Finland buying Israeli air defence weapons

The government is set to discuss increases to defence spending against the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen (Cen). Image: Petteri Sopanen / Yle

Finland is moving to boost its ground-based air defence capabilities and is currently choosing between two Israeli-made surface-to-air missile systems.

The government has not disclosed the deal's price tag.

Appearing on Yle's Ykkösaamu show on Saturday, Finland's Defence Minister, Antti Kaikkonen,(Cen) said Finland was improving its anti-aircraft defence.

"It's a substantial investment—a big one right after fighter jets," he explained.

Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Systems are the two manufacturers in the running.

The Defence Minister also said Finland had learned Belarus was joining Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"We have intelligence indicating that Belarus is considering taking a larger role [in Ukraine]," he said.

The Defence Minister added that Finland was preparing for "a number of scenarios" as the situation in Ukraine develops. But he emphasised that Finland was not facing any immediate threats.

"The situation on our borders is peaceful, but we still have to remain alert and strengthen our defence capabilities. That's something we must always do."

Kaikkonen noted that many reservists missed their refresher training during the pandemic and said it would be good now to "plug the gap."

He also revealed that Finland was engaged in defence cooperation discussions with the United Kingdom. On Friday Britain promised to help Sweden if attacked by Russia.

When asked if he thought the UK would come to Finland's aid in the event of a possible attack, Kaikkonen said, "the partnerships that we have with different countries are so deep that I think if Finland was the target of an attack, other EU states wouldn't stand by quietly."

On Friday Finland's President, Sauli Niinistö, and US President Joe Biden agreed to step up defence cooperation during a meeting at the White House.

This week, Yle News' All Points North podcast examined how Russia's attack on Ukraine is impacting Finland.