Finland is officially a NATO member


Apr 5, 2023

After months of negotiations, Finland is now officially a NATO member, making it the 31st country in the bloc. Finland membership was sealed in Brussels on Tuesday at the headquarters of the bloc. 

“Finland has today become a member of the defence alliance NATO. The era of military non-alignment in our history has come to an end. A new era begins,” Sauli Väinämö Niinistö, the president of Finland, said in a statement on Tuesday. 

“Each country maximizes its security. So does Finland. At the same time, NATO membership strengthens our international position and room for manoeuvre. As a partner, we have long actively participated in NATO activities. In the future, Finland will make a contribution to NATO collective deterrence and defence,” the statement added. 

Present at the accession ceremony was US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Pekka Haavisto.

Finland and Sweden submitted separate applications to join the bloc sometime in May 2022, three months after Russia invaded Ukraine. But since every member of the bloc has the right to veto a new application, Turkey refused to approve the two countries membership, leaving them stuck for a while. Hungary was also on the same page as Turkey. 

In July 2022, Turkey and Hungary softened their stance on Finland but not Sweden. Hence the approval of Finland’s membership and a pending application for Sweden. 

What Finland will bring to the alliance

Finland is not new to NATO. For several years, Finnish troops have worked with NATO soldiers and are used to their operations. While Finland is trying to guarantee its security and avoid the same fate as Ukraine, NATO also has a lot to benefit from the Nordic nation. 

In November last year, a report by the Washington-based Wilson Center outlined how Finland would benefit NATO. They include artillery and reserve forces and technological access.  

“With some 1,500 artillery weapons, including 700 Howitzer guns, 700 heavy mortar, and 100 rocket launcher systems, the Finnish artillery has more artillery firepower than the combined militaries of Poland, Germany, Norway, and Sweden can currently muster,” the report stated. 

It added that Finland’s artillery forces are the best in Western Europe, owing to its strong cyber security record. Since it is one of the world’s major providers of 5G infrastructure, the entire bloc could benefit from its technological advancement. Hence Finland admission into NATO is a win-win. 

Why a NATO membership is important for Finland

With an estimated war-time strength of 280,000 troops, the Finnish military is one of the strongest in Western Europe. Despite the military’s strength, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created a rare kind of fear among the nations in that region. 

In April last year, outgoing prime minister Sanna Marin said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed the mindset of the people of Finland and Sweden. 

“Everything changed when Russia invaded Ukraine. People’s mindset in Finland, also in Sweden, changed and shifted very dramatically,” Sanna Marin said at the time while announcing the decision to join the bloc. 

Finland shares a long boundary with Russia, and there are fears that sooner or later, Moscow could attempt to invade another neighbour. Under the laws of NATO, an injury to one is an injury to all. When one nation is attacked, every member state is expected to mobilize in defence of that country. Hence every member state could come for Finland’s defence should Russia or any other country attempt to outrun it. 

A blow to Putin and Russia

One of the Kremlin’s reason for invading Ukraine was its close relationship with the West, especially the United States. Ordinarily, the invasion ought to scare other countries from forming further alliances with the so-called enemies of Russia.

Rather than distance themselves from the West, the war in Ukraine has further brought Russia’s neigbours closer to the West, with the latest being Finland. Sweden is still on the waiting list, and Ukraine is hoping that someday, it will be admitted into the bloc. What that means is that NATO military equipment are moving closer to Russia. 

Following Finland admission, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Putin has failed to use his war to shut NATO door. 

“Today, we show the world that he failed, that aggression and intimidation do not work. Instead of less NATO, he has achieved the opposite – more NATO – and our door remains firmly open,” Jens Stoltenberg stated. 

“Joining NATO is good for Finland. It is good for Nordic security and it’s good for NATO as a whole. Finland brings substantial and highly capable forces expertise on national resilience and years of experience working side by side with NATO allies,” he added. 

While Mr Stolternberg is mocking Russia, Moscow on the other hand believes the alliance would cause more harm than good for the European continent.

Russia is prepared for NATO

Before Finland’s admission into NATO, the Russian Federation said it would strengthen its military capabilities around the borders should the bloc deploy its forces to the Nordic country’s territory. 

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko said: “We will strengthen our military potential in the west and in the northwest. In case of deployment of forces of other NATO members on the territory of Finland, we will take additional steps to ensure Russia’s military security.”


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