EU sets up reserve in Finland to respond to nuclear and chemical threats
HELSINKI (Reuters) - The European Union has given Finland 242 million euros ($262 million) to set up for the first time a reserve against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats for use by all member states, the Finnish government said on Tuesday.
"Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine has confirmed the need to strengthen the EU CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) preparedness," European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said in a statement.
The reserve will consist of rescue equipment and medical supplies, such as antidotes and radiation metres, that are intended to protect first responders and the civilian population, Finland's interior ministry said.
Finland shares a 1,300-km (800-mile) border with Russia and is located close to the Baltic states which also fear that an escalation of the war in Ukraine could lead to the use of nuclear weapons or a nuclear accident.
"The stockpiles to be established in Finland will improve the European Union's strategic preparedness and readiness to respond to different kinds of threats, especially in Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea region," Finland's interior minister Krista Mikkonen said in a statement.
Ready for use from 2024, the reserve aims to dispatch supplies to a disaster or crisis area within 12 hours of an offer of assistance being accepted, it added.
Finland has kept extensive national reserves of essential goods such as grains, fuels and medicine for decades after it lost around 10% of its territory to the Soviet Union, after fighting back an invasion attempt by the Soviets during World War II.
($1 = 0.9240 euros)
(Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)