According to the assessment of the leadership in Moscow, Finland’s accession to NATO would “clearly” pose a threat to Russia. As Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained on Thursday, an expansion of the military alliance and a NATO rapprochement with Russia’s borders “would not make the world and our continent more stable and more secure”.
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The Kremlin spokesman answered the question of whether Russia would see Finland’s NATO membership as a threat with “definitely”. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin spoke out in favor of their country’s “immediate” accession to NATO on Thursday.
In a joint statement, the two endorsed membership in the western military alliance. This would strengthen Finland’s security and the entire alliance at the same time, declared the Nordic country’s two most important politicians.
NATO promised Finland a quick admission. “The accession process would run smoothly and quickly,” said General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday. Finland is one of NATO’s closest partners, a mature democracy, a member of the EU and a key factor when it comes to Euro-Atlantic security. “You would be warmly welcomed into NATO,” said Stoltenberg.
The EU’s northernmost country is expected to decide on a formal application for membership in the coming days, probably on Sunday. This step would be a direct consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting changed security situation in Europe. For Finland, which has been non-aligned for a long time and shares a border with Russia that is more than 1,300 kilometers long, such a decision would be historic.
Before the country can join NATO, all 30 current members must agree. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has recently signaled several times that there is broad support for this within the alliance.
Niinistö and Marin’s government ultimately decide together on the NATO issue, but they involved parliament in the decision-making process. On the way to a decision, the government had already submitted a security analysis to the Riksdag in Helsinki in April, in which the advantages and risks of possible NATO membership were highlighted. However, the analysis did not include a position for or against such a membership.
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The Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia welcome the fact that Finland’s political leadership is in favor of joining NATO soon. “Finland’s accession would significantly strengthen both the alliance and the security of the Baltic States,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “I am happy about this great historic day!”
“History is made by our northern neighbors,” tweeted Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. Finland can count on Estonia’s “full support”. “We support the rapid accession process. The necessary steps will be taken quickly from our side.”
The Latvian President Egils Levits also supported the possible accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO. “We are positive about it,” Levits said on Thursday during a visit to Kiel. Such a move would strengthen NATO’s northern and eastern flanks. “And that’s why accession is very important and we welcome that.”
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also rated Finland’s plans as “good news for the security of Poland and Europe”. “Poland is in favor of Finland joining the alliance as soon as possible,” Morawiecki said on Twitter on Thursday.
76 percent of the population for accession
Finland and neighboring Sweden are already close partners of NATO, but have not yet become official members. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked an intense NATO debate in both countries. In the population there was a clear change of opinion towards a possible accession to the alliance. In a recent poll by the Finnish broadcaster Yle, 76 percent of respondents were in favor of Finland joining NATO.
[Mehr dazu bei Tagesspiegel Plus: Wie die Debatte um den Nato-Beitritt ein finnisches Dorf spaltet (T+)]
During a visit by Marin and the Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson to the closed meeting of the federal cabinet in Meseberg near Berlin, Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently promised German support for the countries joining NATO.
The Finnish announcement now increases the pressure on Sweden to make a timely decision on NATO membership. A separate security policy analysis is expected there on Friday, and Andersson’s governing Social Democrats want to make a decision on their own position on the matter on Sunday. Next Tuesday and Wednesday, Niinistö is finally with the Swedish King Carl XVI. Gustaf visiting Stockholm. (dpa)