BRUSSELS: Finland has not asked for NATO members to station troops on its territory, a senior alliance commander said Monday, as Helsinki readies to join.

"Whether we will station troops in Finland is a question that starts with Finland," said Admiral Rob Bauer, the chair of NATO's military committee.

"For now, there is no such request. But of course, it might come in the future and then we will have to look at it when that occurs," Bauer told AFP in an interview.

On Tuesday, Finland will become the alliance's 31st member, in an historic strategic shift that doubles NATO's land border with Russia.

Moscow's war on Ukraine pushed Finland -- and its neighbour Sweden -- to drop decades of non-alignment and apply last year to join the US-led alliance.

Finland moves closer to joining NATO without Sweden

The Kremlin's response to Finland's membership has been muted, but it has pledged to bolster its troops in its northwest over the coming years.

"We haven't seen any concrete movement of troops yet, primarily because they need all the troops they can find in Ukraine," Bauer said.

"They cannot afford to have a lot of troops along the Finnish border where there is no direct threat from NATO," Bauer said.

The Dutch admiral stressed that NATO plans for defending its newest member from any potential attack will rest "first and foremost with Finland because they have very capable troops".

"The additional border with Russia is a problem that Finland is dealing with for the last 75 years already," Bauer said.

"We get more territory to defend, but we get the troops of Finland to help NATO with that."

But if Moscow does launch an assault, Bauer promised that NATO nations "will come, in accordance with the plan to help defend Finland through strategic reinforcements".

Bauer said that overall, Finland's strategic location and potent military -- along with the eventual membership of neighbour Sweden -- would make it "easier" for NATO to defend its eastern flank.

And he said that in the far north the pair joining would mean NATO will have seven of the eight Arctic states in its number.

To the south he said that the Baltic sea will become "more and more a water that is in NATO territory."

"It is more and more difficult for the Russians to take action without NATO basically knowing what they're doing," Bauer said.


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