“NATO membership would strengthen Finland's security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance.”
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin in a joint statement on Thursday, saying the country "must apply for NATO membership without delay."
may 12, 2022
- Why It Matters: Finland's likely accession into NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) — the largest military organization in the world — would double the U.S.-led alliance's border with Russia, adding approx. 830 miles (about the distance from New York City, NY to Atlanta, GA). This would redraw security lines in Europe and expand NATO's eastern border — the very thing which Russia has said, in part, led to its invasion of Ukraine.
- What's Next? NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Finland would be "warmly welcomed" into the alliance, which is founded upon a mutual defense agreement that "an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies," (NATO). Stoltenberg said the process for membership would be "smooth and swift," and the Associated Press reports that Finland's membership is "likely to be the quickest NATO enlargement ever."
- When Finnish President Niinisto was asked Wednesday if the move would provoke Russia, he said: "My response would be that you [Russia] caused this. Look at the mirror."
- Something To Consider: Historically, Finland has remained "nonaligned" militarily. However, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, public support of NATO membership has increased — rising from around 20-30% in recent years to now over 75%.
- Russia's Response: Russian Pres. Putin has previously warned of a "military-technical" response if Finland joins NATO. Upon Finland's announcement Thursday on applying for NATO membership, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "NATO expansion does not make our continent more stable and more secure. This cannot fail to arouse our regret, and is a reason for corresponding symmetrical responses on our side."
Joint statement by the President of the Republic and Prime Minister of Finland on Finland's NATO membership (President of the Republic of Finland)
Finland's leaders call for NATO membership 'without delay' (Associated Press)
EXPLAINER: Why Finland, Sweden joining NATO will be big deal (Associated Press)
What Is NATO? (SmartHER News)