Russia’s Northern Neighbour Spooked: Finns Buy Up Anti-Radiation Iodine Tablets, Prepare Beds for Refugees

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Concern over a broader conflict has led Finns to buy large quantities of anti-radiation iodine tablets and to prepare a thousand beds for fleeing Ukrainians as Russia threatens consequences if the country joins NATO.

Pharmacies across Finland have claimed that stocks of iodine tablets, which are used to combat the effects of radiation and nuclear fallout, have run low and, in some cases, have sold out completely, as Finns fear the war in Ukraine could spread.

“There has been strong demand in the last couple of weeks,” pharmacist Eero Suihko told broadcaster YLE.

Some pharmacies, such as the Prisma pharmacy in the city of Lappeenranta, claimed to have totally sold out of the tablets.

The pharmacy at S-market Myllykeskus in Lappeenranta, meanwhile, has limited purchases to try and keep up with the demand from locals.

The large demand for iodine tablets comes as Russia threatened Finland and Sweden with “serious military and political repercussions” if they join the NATO military alliance.

In recent days, Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin stated that the option to join NATO would remain open for Finland, but added that “No acute discussions are currently underway about the possibility of Finland applying to NATO.”

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said of the possibility of Finland and Sweden joining NATO: “The Finnish government’s policy of military non-alliance is an important factor in ensuring security and stability in northern Europe.”

“We have seen this policy over a number of years… and Finland and Sweden should not base their security on damaging security of other countries. Their accession to NATO can have detrimental consequences… and face military and political consequences,” she added.

Finland is also preparing for a possible wave of refugees from Ukraine, setting up a thousand beds in preparation for those fleeing the conflict.

Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) Director-General Jari Kähkönen said Finland wanted to be ready in case a wave of people arrived.

“There is room, and of course we have plans that, for example, emergency accommodation places can be used in need,” Kähkönen said.

Sanna Sutter, Director of Migration at the Ministry of the Interior, said that Finland was prepared for large numbers of refugees, saying: “In a relatively short period of time, we have the possibility of [preparing] tens of thousands of [beds].”

Other EU countries have also expressed their willingness to take in Ukrainian refugees, including Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary.

So-called “humanitarian superpower” Sweden, however, has expressed reluctance about taking in Ukrainians, with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson suggesting that other countries should take responsibility for Ukrainians fleeing the conflict as they have already taken large numbers of mostly Middle Eastern migrant men in recent years.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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