If Lappeenranta hosts a military base, it would make itself a target if a conflict should ever break out, said the President of the State Duma
The mayor of the Finnish border town of Lappeenranta would put the city at the crossroads of Russia by hosting a NATO military base, Russian Speaker of the Russian Duma Vyacheslav Volodin said on Monday.
Volodin commented on one story published by Finnish media about a border town that expects increased investment after the nation joined the US-led military bloc. Kimmo Jarva, mayor of Lappeenranta, suggested that his city would like a military base.
The Finnish broadcaster Yle quoted Jarva as saying that a formal accession to NATO would entail “a sense of security” to people and companies in the region of South Karelia. The Russian State Duma’s spokesman said the mayor was wrong about security, due to the fact that military infrastructure would be targeted only in the event of a conflict between the two nations.
“Hosting NATO bases would not protect either Finland or Sweden. On the contrary, it would expose the inhabitants of the cities that host military infrastructure.” wrote Volodin on social media.
Lappeenranta, with a population of about 70,000, is located 20 km from the Russian border.
Finland and the Nordic nation Sweden applied to join NATO earlier this year and are expected to become full members soon, when all current member states have ratified their accession. They both broke with their long-standing traditions of neutrality to join the organization, claiming it was necessary because of the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
The governments of both countries have stated that they would not be obliged to accept NATO bases or nuclear weapons on their land.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the Donetsk and Lugansk regions special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, mediated by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since acknowledged that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass Republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kyiv insists that the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.