Finland’s leaders today (Thursday) officially announced a significant change of direction in the country’s history, and their recommendation to join the NATO alliance “without delay and urgently” due to Russian aggression and the new security situation created after Moscow launched the war against Ukraine in February. Formerly a member of the Conservative Party on the right and Prime Minister of Finland Sana Marin (leader of the Social Democratic Party on the left) announced the move together at a press conference.
A similar announcement is now awaited by the Swedish government, and Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson has announced that she will announce the position of the Social Democratic Party and the entire government by next Sunday.
A large majority of 76% of Finns support joining NATO, compared with 28% before the start of the war last January. The change in public opinion has also led to a change in the political system, where the issue has been controversial for decades. The Social Democrats That the government has in fact changed its position regarding joining.
Russia threatens to respond
Demetri Medvedev, former President of Russia and now Vice President of the National Security Council, published a short text after the announcement, in which he threatened to escalate into a nuclear war, but refrained from commenting on Finland and Sweden. “In the context of the proxy war started by Western countries against Russia, I want to make clear once again the things that have become clear to any sensible person: Western, the sending of mercenaries and the exercises of the United States near our borders increase the chances of an open and direct confrontation between NATO and Russia, instead of a proxy war. 2. Such a confrontation always carries with it a risk of becoming a full nuclear war. 3. Such a scenario would be catastrophic for everyone “.
Until the Medvedev statement, Russia had contented itself with general threats to “rebalance the situation in the Baltic region” and also threatened to place nuclear weapons in nearby Kaliningrad enclave, a move it had previously denied but apparently had already done secretly years ago.
Former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Shtov said in an interview with a German newspaper that the Russians would try to focus their response on Pike News campaigns that would try to undermine Finland’s internal situation, and possibly even cyber attacks. He estimated that there would be no direct military action by Russia against Finland.
“NATO membership strengthens Finland’s security”
The Finnish move breaks decades of neutrality, which was maintained even during the Cold War, for fear of a Russian reaction. Since declaring its independence from Russia in 1917, Finland has experienced invasions, attempts at intervention and even support for civil war on the part of the country. Since the spring, consultations and assessments have been conducted, as well as a formal re-examination of the security situation, which recommended joining the Western Military Alliance. “NATO membership will strengthen Finland’s security,” the two leaders said in a joint statement. “Finland must apply for NATO membership urgently. We hope the necessary steps to promote this will be done in the coming days.”
The Finnish parliament is now expected to vote to join the alliance, and according to the state broadcasting network, a majority is guaranteed. NATO then has to formally invite the country to join the Alliance. Subsequent approval procedures involve approvals from Finland to join the 30 member states, and only at the end of the process – within a period of about a year, will the Finnish parliament vote again on practical accession. Meanwhile, until NATO joins and sponsors Finland’s security in the name of Article 5 of the Alliance, it is considered relatively dangerous in terms of Russian response.
To ensure the security of the country, countries are expected to extend security sponsorship over Finland until the accession process is completed. Yesterday, Britain, a nuclear power, announced that it had signed a joint defense agreement with Finland and Sweden and that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had made it clear that it meant “rescuing mutual aid” in the event of war. Further expressions of support are expected to be announced at the latest at the annual NATO summit to be held in late June in Madrid.
Sweden is now also expected to announce an imminent accession, with polls showing that a large majority of the public supports the move – especially if Finland joins the alliance.