F-35 (Photo: United States Air Force)

Finland will sign a $9.4 billion agreement on Friday to buy U.S. F-35 fighter jets, bringing 64 radar-evading warplanes to a country bordering Russia at a time when Moscow is threatening military action unless the West pulls back its forces in Europe.

Finland, which was historically neutral during the Cold War, is a member of the EU but not of the NATO Western military alliance, though it says it aims to cooperate with NATO and retains the right to join.

It’s government said the decision to buy the advanced U.S. jets, announced in December, was part of long-term plans to boost the country’s defences and not a response to the ongoing confrontation between the West and Russia over Ukraine.

Agreements finalising the purchase of the jets would be signed on Friday with the U.S. government and the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin Corp, the ministry said. (LMT.N)

“Yes, today it will be signed… It is a binding agreement that Finland will purchase the jets,” Lauri Puranen, director in charge of the purchase at Finland’s ministry of defence told Reuters. Finland has previously said the planes would begin to be deployed in 2027.

“This is another clear sign of how serious Finland has always been about its national defence,” Finland’s ambassador to the United States, Mikko Hautala, said in a statement.