Finland calls for NATO membership ‘without delay’, Russia threatens retaliation

Historic decision is due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; Popular support has risen to 80% and alliance promises quick process

Frank Augstein / POOL / AFPFinland in NATO
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto attends a press conference at the presidential palace in Helsinki, Finland

THE Finland confirmed this Thursday, 12, the interest in joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) “without delay”. This is a historic decision by the Nordic country. “Membership in NATO would strengthen Finland’s security,” said the statement signed by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin. “As a member of NATO, Finland would also strengthen the Alliance as a whole,” he added. This decision resulted in an immediate response from Russia, which in April threatened the Finns if they continued this interest. At the time, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskovdeclared that this decision “does not bring any peace or stability”, as “it is only a tool for confrontation”.

After the release of the statement, Peskov spoke again and considered it a threat to his country and promised retaliation to Finland. “NATO’s expansion and the Alliance’s approach to our borders do not make the world or our continent more stable and secure,” he told the press. Since the Cold War, the Nordic country has remained neutral due to an agreement with the former Soviet Union to avoid a conflict, however, as a result of the war between Russia and Ukraine, which is almost four months old, they have turned back and want to join NATO to increase their security. Finland was a Russian province from 1809 to 1917 and was also invaded in 1939.

Finland NATO

The announcement to join the Alliance was already expected, and since the 24th of February, when Russia launched the ‘military operation’ in Ukraine, the Finnish public opinionif they changed and they started to support membership. Currently, 76% of the 5.5 million Finns say they are in favor, according to a survey. Before the war, support was 25%. The same happens in Sweden, which must follow in the footsteps of the strategic partner. Although talks to join NATO are less advanced in Sweden, Parliament in Stockholm is expected to give its opinion on the subject this Friday, 13.

NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, celebrated Finland’s new step and declared that the candidacy “would be warmly received, with a fluid and fast process”. On Monday, the 16th, Finnish deputies will meet to examine the government’s proposal and vote later, informed the Speaker of the House, Matti Vanhanen. “Joining NATO is not a decision that goes against anyone,” said the Finnish president. For him, who for years bet on an East-West dialogue, Russia can only blame itself when observing the union of the neighboring country to the Alliance. “If we join NATO, my response to Russia would be: ‘You provoked this, look in the mirror,’” the president said.

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