Washington is moving forward with assisting Finland in improving its security situation at a moment its controversial application to joint NATO remains stalled due to objections from Turkey and Hungary.
The State Department has approved the potential sale of $535 million worth of guided multiple launch rocket systems (GMLRS) and related equipment to Helsinki. Among other things, the GMLRS transfer will contribute to land and air defense capabilities for Europe's northernmost allied outpost near Russia.
"This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a trusted partner, which is an important force for political stability and economic progress in Europe," the US Department of Defense announced last week.
"It is vital to the US national interest to assist Finland in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability," the statement added.
Finland shares an 800-mile border with Russia, and the Kremlin has warned that any observable build-up of NATO infrastructure near the border will trigger Russian forces to do the same. Moscow has further warned of nuclear build-up and standoff in the Baltic region over Finland's potential entry into NATO.
"Finland intends to use these defense articles and services to increase its national stock, bolstering the land and air defense capabilities in Europe’s northern flank," the US statement underscored. "The increased national stock is critical to Finland’s defense and deterrence due to the deteriorated security situation in Europe."
According to more details in The Defense Post:
Under the order, Finland requested 150 M30A1 GMLRS steel cases or M30A2 GMLRS missile pods with an insensitive munitions propulsion system (IMPS) or a combination of both.
The Northern European country also included 250 M31A1 GMLRS unitary steel cases or M31A2 GMLRS-U IMPS, or a combination of both, in the request.
...The state department is still in the process of diverting 50 percent of the procurement from US stocks. A final decision based on this process will determine the GMLRS version Finland receives.
Meanwhile, the process of Finland and Sweden's NATO application is expected to take a long time, especially after Turkey said days ago the two countries have not done enough, and must still take "steps" to join the military alliance.
"President Erdogan noted that the steps to be taken by Sweden and Finland would determine how fast the approval process... would go and when it would be concluded," the Turkish presidency said in a statement.