Scowcroft Center Navy Senior Fellow Mark Seip writes for foreign language newspaper the Helsinki Times on Finland participating in air exercises with the United States:

Finland’s recent acceptance of an US invitation to participate in a regional air force exercise did not come without some controversy. The invitation was met with hesitation in Helsinki, pitting those in government who favor greater cooperation against those who worry about Finland’s ability to retain its non-aligned status. With growing regional tension due to an increasingly assertive Russia, Finland’s participation gives it greater authority and leverage in regional security issues with the United States.

To start, while Finland’s stated foreign policy is one of non-alignment, the reality is that the nation shares a high level of engagement with the United States and with NATO. The nations already participate in a variety of exercises, be it air (Arctic Challenge), naval (Northern Coast), or ground (Saber Strike). Hardware is shared, including the F/A-18 Hornet strike fighter and the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Strike Missile. Finland’s service under NATO leadership in Afghanistan and as lead nation in Kosovo are two visible examples of active Finnish engagement with many of its European neighbors. Indeed, Finland is now designated as one of five “exceptional partners” of NATO. Therefore, while non-alignment may be rooted in historical norms, today’s reality says that sustained engagement is desirable and prudent considering the current security environment created by Russia.

Read the full article here.

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