No, the U.S. is not establishing military bases in Finland and deployed U.S. troops are not exempt from Finnish laws

By: Emmi Kivi
January 3 2024

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No, the U.S. is not establishing military bases in Finland and deployed U.S. troops are not exempt from Finnish laws


The Verdict False

The DCA does not establish U.S. military bases in Finland and demands the deployed U.S. staff must respect Finnish laws.

Claim ID 65662464

The Context

On December 18, 2023, Finland and the United States signed a new bilateral Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA). The DCA clarifies an up-to-date framework for cooperation in matters related to security and covers practical issues such as the entry of troops, taxation, and the storage of defense materials. The Finnish Parliament still needs to approve the DCA before it enters into legal force. 

The newly signed Agreement sparked conspiracies that it was signed to open a second front with Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine. Online users shared a map of Finland to claim it shows U.S. military bases established by the DCA, while other online users claimed that under the Agreement, the U.S. forces are not bound by Finnish laws and lack criminal liability.

Social media users have also spun an occasion on which Alexander Stubb, a presidential candidate of the National Coalition Party, misspoke, to claim that he admitted the DCA was signed to enable U.S. military campaigns instead of enforcing defense cooperation during a debate in December.

However, the claims are false and the DCA does not permit the U.S. to establish military bases in Finland, and U.S. troops are not exempt from Finnish law. 

In Fact

Under the DCA, "The United States will not establish any military bases in Finland. Under the DCA, US forces may use existing facilities and areas of the Finnish Defence Forces as agreed." Annex A of the DCA lists the 15 agreed military facilities that include spaces to which only the U.S. has access, but they do not enact U.S. military bases in Finland. The agreement specifies that "The primary reasons of the presence of US forces in Finland are training and exercises or similar cooperation that does not require permanent presence."

The DCA does not exempt U.S. forces from criminal liability in Finland and sets the framework for criminal jurisdiction under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement (NATO SOFA). Accordingly, the U.S. has the primary jurisdiction over its soldiers and deployed civilians but must respect Finnish laws. Moreover, the right to exercise criminal jurisdiction for U.S. forces is divided between Finland and the United States. 

Finland may claim primary jurisdiction in exceptional criminal cases: “In cases of social offenses or sexual offenses or similar offenses of importance to Finland”, Minister for Foreign Affairs Elina Valtonen told a press conference in December (translated from Finnish). 

Logically Facts has previously covered and disproved false claims about NATO and the U.S. outsetting wars in Europe through NATO Allies. 

The Verdict

The DCA provides an updated framework of security cooperation between Finland and the U.S. and is not a device for aggression in Russia or elsewhere. It does not establish American military bases in Finland, but deployed U.S. forces will have access to 15 agreed-upon military facilities and areas. U.S. forces will be subject to U.S. laws but must respect Finnish laws; there is no exemption for criminal liability. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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