Photo Credit: Wikimedia / MandariiniMaapallo
Finland's Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen at a new conference on Oct. 6, 2021

The government of Finland has decided to purchase an Israeli aerial defense system as Russia ramps up its war on Ukraine.

Finland’s government is currently choosing between two Israeli-made surface-to-air missile system, according to the YLE News site.

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Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Rafael Advanced Systems – maker of Israel’s iconic Iron Dome anti-missile defense system – are the two defense manufacturers are consideration.

There was no information on the financial details of the agreement.

But speaking on YLE’s Ykkosaamu show on Saturday, Finland’s Defense Minister, Antti Kaikkonen said, “It’s a substantial investment – a big one right after fighter jets.”

“In this scheme we will upgrade the anti-aircraft defense’s high-altitude ability and increase significantly its reach,” Finland’s defense ministry said in a statement.

Under the plan, Finland plans to purchase equipment such as transporter erector launchers, radar systems, missiles and related integration equipment, the ministry told Reuters. A final purchase decision is expected in early 2023.

Kaikkonen also said that Finland has learned Belarus is joining Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.

Finland shares a long border with Russia and is not a NATO member. However, in a meeting held Friday at the White House, Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and US President Joe Biden agreed to step up defense cooperation between their two countries.

“We have intelligence indicating that Belarus is considering taking a larger role [in Ukraine],” he said.

Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and US President Joe Biden agreed Friday during a meeting at the White House to step up defense cooperation between their two countries.

Finland is not facing any immediate threats, Kaikkonen told YLE, but noted “we still have to remain alert and strengthen our defense capabilities. That’s something we must always do,” he said.

He added that despite the fact Finland is not a NATO member, if the country were to become the target of an attack, “other [European Union] states wouldn’t stand by quietly.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.