Finally, Finland decided to apply for NATO membership!
Finland’s leaders have announced their intention to join NATO, abandoning its traditionally neutral stance.
Support for such a move has grown sharply in Finland and neighboring Sweden since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. Moscow has threatened unspecified measures if the governments in Helsinki and Stockholm abandon their longstanding policy of military nonalignment.
While a short while ago, Finland’s foreign Minister, Pekka Havvisto acknowledged that Russia would respond to their decision. Russia has said that the decision is for Finns and sweets to make. Secondly, if these countries joined to NATO, this will have a political military changes in the Baltic Sea area. Our understanding of this response is that Russia maybe will have more military equipment on the border, and this will be a NATO border. Then, Russia will guard it in other way than previously. And then the fourth announcement has been by former President Medvedev, who said that then Baltic Sea will no more be a nuclear free area. But of course, we have already seen their missiles in California and so forth, and these are the missiles, but also nuclear warheads can be used.
So the nuclear risks, of course, have been there always.
It seems that until the 24 February, we had a slightly naive and wrong impression of what kind of a country Russia is. We now know that Russia is prepared and willing to use reckless, brutal military force against its non-allied neighbors without provocation to further its expansionist imperialist agenda. This is the new reality with which we have to cope, and it has forced us to reassess or reconsider some of our long-held traditional ways of thinking- Jussia Halla-aho, the chair of the Finnish Foreign Affairs Committee
Katya Adler from Helsinki,
“This is a country that has had a huge about turn since Russia invaded Ukraine. If you have a look at public opinion polls, that is what’s driving the political change. Before Russia’s invasion, there was a 20% to 30% support for joining NATO. The latest opinion poll suggests 76% of Finns want to join the military alliance. Why? Because they’ve seen Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, its expansionist zeal. And even though Vladimir Putin has threatened retaliation. If Finland and Sweden join NATO, it is felt here by the people that it will make them safer because of NATO’s policy of all for one and one for all. So an attack against one will be seen as an attack against all. Don’t forget, Finland has a 1300 kilometer long border that it shares with Russia, so it feels particularly exposed.”
It also would suggest an even worse miscalculation by Vladimir Putin as one commentator was putting it in the last couple of hours. It would make the Baltic Sea seem like an inner Lake for NATO.
Well, that’s right. You could say since Vladimir Putin is threatening retaliation if Finland and Sweden join? Well, doesn’t it actually expose everybody more? So what’s in it for NATO? What’s in it for Europe? Well, a lot, yes. If Finland and Sweden joined NATO that will be a massive bolstering of the Eastern flank. You’ll have Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the Baltic countries feeling a lot safer, Norway as well. And yes, NATO will have its presence there in the Baltic Sea. This of course is something that Vladimir Putin wants to avoid. It’s always seen NATO’s expansion eastwards as a threat. This is even more menacing for
Russia in Vladimir Putin’s eyes. But again, we already heard from Finland’s President yesterday applying for NATO membership from the Finnish point of view would be about defense, not offense. – Katya Adler.
Question answered by James Reynolds from the border between Finland and Russia.
Long-held views, ways of thinking changing rapidly. We heard a moment ago from one of the contributors. And do you think that public opinion really matches this change? Has public thinking changed dramatically because of what’s happening on the borders of Ukraine and Russia?
Yes, it has. Their support for NATO beforehand was about 20%. Now it’s up to 70%. That means that if you look around, you stop people in the street, one of every two people has now changed their mind and decided that it is much safer for this country and this border region to get inside the tent of NATO and that promise of collective security than to try to deal with Russia individually, which is what Finland has tried to do for many years. This country had been on the threshold of NATO. Don’t forget, had been a member of NATO’s partnership program.
Since 1994. There has been intelligence sharing, there have been joint exercises. But Finland always thought it was best to deal with its neighbor through constant dialogue and also through preparation through that dialogue. But things will now change. This border region in particular becomes the front line for NATO. NATO adds 800 miles long border to its territory doubling the length of the NATO Russia border. And from Vladimir Putin’s perspective, that does change the complexion of things here in the Baltic region. It means that he has to defend twice as long a border. It means that his own, for example, his own home city of St. Petersburg is now just a two or three hour drive from NATO territory which would be here in Finland as well.