Russia to increase troops in its northwest as Finland joins NATO

MOSCOW (AFP): Russia said Monday it would boost its military presence along its northwestern border after NATO confirmed that Finland would officially join the Western military alliance on April 4.

Earlier, Russian officials said they detained a 26-year-old woman suspected of detonating a bomb that killed a pro-war blogger and wounded dozens of others in a café in St Petersburg on Sunday.

Finland has not asked for NATO members to station troops on its territory, a senior alliance commander has said, a day before Helsinki officially joins the alliance as its 31st member.

“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.

Finland’s historic strategic shift, which was triggered by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, will double NATO’s land border with Russia.

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