Despite Russian concerns and Kremlin attempts to induce an absolute shrinkage of the Trans-Atlantic alliance, Finland has moved quickly to join NATO.
“Finland is very likely to apply for NATO, and next Sweden,” a top European official said. “Finland leads. Conversations in Sweden are lagging.”
This would be a dash into NATO for a nation that has an 800-mile frontier with Russia. Since Putin sent over 150,000 Russian soldiers into Ukraine, the Finnish public has changed dramatically.
New: Discussions about Sweden and Finland joining NATO have gotten extremely serious, officials say, w/applications likely coming in the next month. Finland’s bid "was pretty much a done deal on the 24th of February, when Russia invaded,” said @alexstubb https://t.co/QMuuQgsbAn
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) April 8, 2022
“The signal from NATO and me is that Finland decides,” Stoltenberg informed CNBC.
“As for Finland, I am convinced that NATO allies would gladly welcome them, and we could decide to have them as a partner of the allies pretty swiftly.”
Need For Alliance
Finland’s membership in the alliance would be a blow to Moscow.
Moscow released a draft treaty in December, requiring NATO never to admit new members and to decrease military ties between original members and post-Soviet republics in Central and Eastern Europe.
“We will have to review all options to ensure the safety of Finland and Finns in this new situation,” declared Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin last week.
“We’ll have to consider our military alignment posture seriously. We’ll have to do this safely, yet swiftly, in the spring.”
However, NATO officials plan to guard against any Russian attempt to attack the Nordic states before their accession is formalized.
A Soviet invasion in 1939 forced Finland to remain neutral.
Because of that struggle, the 5.5 million-strong Finnish people developed a complex “comprehensive security” strategy that included fuel and medication depots and 900,000 reserve troops ready to repel any potential Russian invasion.
Finnish @NATO membership will be win-win for Nato, Finland and the whole Baltic Sea region. Reserves 900K. Mobilisation 250-300K. Nato compatibility beyond the call of duty. Track record of joint exercises and operations. Sophisticated intel. F-18 and F-35. Safer together.
— Alexander Stubb (@alexstubb) April 9, 2022
According to Finnish Defense Ministry Chief General Janne Kuusela, “We train periodically to ensure everyone knows what to do. You can put this society into crisis mode if necessary.”
Harshness of the Russian Military
The Russian assault on Ukraine served as a stark reminder of Putin’s imperial ambitions, a warning Zelensky gave directly to the Finnish Senate on Friday.
Zelensky told the Finnish legislature if the Russian armed forces are instructed to enter the country, they will do so.
“You already saw the harshness and foolishness of the Russian invasion. The threat remains. Everything must be done to avoid a repeat.”
Putin claimed the “special military operation” was required to keep Ukraine from joining NATO and triggering a nuclear war with Russia. As indicated by their failure to assist Ukraine, NATO members do not want a confrontation with Russia.
Since Ukraine’s candidacy has been blocked since 2008, Finland’s accession will be a “big, awkward moment” for NATO, according to a senior European official.
To have this chance in the future, someplace far in the future, the state wants [NATO membership] fiercely, but doesn’t get it, the senior European official added. “Those who struggle and deserve it don’t receive it.”