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What it means if Helsinki joins the alliance


Sanna Marin, Finland’s prime minister has stated that the country would decide within weeks whether it wants to join NATO. The possibility exists that Sweden could follow the lead of Finland.

Ludovic Marin | Afp | Getty Images

Finland could be about to announce that it’s joining the military alliance NATO — in what would mark a dramatic U-turn for its foreign policy and potentially anger Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This Nordic country shares an 808-mile border with Russia. It has been carefully walking a tightrope for decades between Moscow and West. Finland adopted neutrality during the Cold War so that it could avoid conflict with Russia. The “Winter War” was a successful counter-invasion of a Soviet invasion in the beginning stages of World War II.

However, its neutrality that has been maintained for many years, which is cherished by Finns, may be ending with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Jacob Kirkegaard (a senior fellow at The German Marshall Fund of USA) stated that Finland’s accession as NATO member would bring an end to “forced neutrity between East/West.”

He stated that Russia’s atrocious actions have made it clear to him how NATO’s previous neutral states had to abide by the NATO ‘you’re either with us fully or we’ll not protect’ principle.

Russia repeatedly said that it opposes any NATO expansion, which is one reason the Kremlin gave for the invasion of Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine had spoken out about his desire for NATO membership before the invasion. but has since conceded that it’s now unlikely.

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NATO’s military and geographical capabilities as well as Finland’s location would be a major advantage. Jens Stoltenberg (its secretary general) has stated that Finland would be welcomed warmly.


Helsinki, however, is aware of all the potential risks associated with joining the alliance.

Mid-April saw a report from the Foreign Ministry that stated: “If Finland applies for NATO membership it should be ready for extensive efforts to exert influence and risk that is difficult to predict such as an increase in tensions along the Finnish/Russia border.”

Russia stated that it will have to balance the situation if Finland were to join NATO.

Even more important, perhaps, is that Sweden could be pushed to join NATO by Finland’s request.

This week Magdalena Andersson from Sweden was speaking alongside her Finnish counterpart. She said that the country would do the same analysis in Finland.

“Finnish membership in NATO will also see the traditional more reluctant Sweden joining at the same. Kirkegaard stated that the move will bring an end to centuries of neutrality in Sweden, and it will make NATO a powerful military power and weapons producer.