HELSINKI, May 29 (RIA Novosti)
Russia is ready to expand military contacts with Finland and to help the country modernize its armed forces, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday.
Shoigu is on a two-day visit to Finland hosted by his Finnish counterpart Carl Haglund.
“This is the first contact at the defense ministerial level. I hope we will expand contacts at the level of chiefs of staff and commanders of military districts,” Shoigu said at a joint news conference with Haglund in Helsinki.
Shoigu said Russia could provide assistance to Finland in the modernization of its army.
“Our military experts will hold a series of meetings on this issue in the near future,” he said.
The Finnish military needs modernizing, and will buy new equipment for its air force in the next 10 years, Haglund said.
During the Soviet era, Finland bought much of its military equipment from the USSR, including MiG-21 fighters, Mi-8 helicopters and air-to-air missiles. After the break-up of the Soviet Union it switched to western suppliers.
Finland is the only non-NATO EU country bordering Russia. The Finnish Defense Forces, like their Russian counterparts, are partly manned by conscripts.