The president and the prime minister of Finland demonstrated this Thursday in favor of requesting “without delay” the adhesion to NATO, paving the way for an expansion of the military alliance amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The spokesman for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin responded that the continued expansion of the US-led military alliance towards its borders will make Europe and the world less secure and that Russia “undoubtedly” sees it as a threat. Along the same lines, the vice president of the Russian Security Council, Dimitri Medvedev, warned that it could lead to a large-scale “nuclear war” and that it would be “a catastrophic scenario for everyone.”
The Russia-Ukraine conflict, minute by minute
From Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg promised Finland a “smooth and rapid accession process” once it announces whether or not it will apply for membership, something scheduled for this Sunday. “Being a member of NATO would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would also strengthen the Alliance as a whole,” the president said in a statement. Sauli Niinisto and the prime minister sanna marin. “Finland must be a candidate for accession without delay,” they added.
The position taken by the two leaders marks the trend that the country will follow, which shares a 1,300 kilometer border with Russia and has a painful past with his powerful neighbor. The two leaders said they will hold a press conference next Sunday to formally announce the decision to apply to join the alliance. “We hope that the internal stages for this decision will be done quickly in the coming days,” said Niinisto and Marin.
Russia has warned of “military and political repercussions” if Finland and Sweden decide to join NATO. If they do, they will have to wait from the moment they present the request until it is ratified by the Parliaments of the 30 nations that make up the Atlantic alliance.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Putin and the Kremlin, said Russia sees this as a threat. “The enlargement of NATO and the alliance’s approach to our borders does not make the world or our continent more stable and secure,” Peskov told reporters in Moscow. Asked if Russia would consider Finland’s entry into NATO a threat, the spokesman replied: “Without a doubt.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the nation will be “forced to take reciprocal, military-technical and other measures to end threats to its national security” if Finland joins NATO. The text added that Finland “must be made aware of the responsibility and consequences of such a decision.”
Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine on February 24 after the United States rejected Putin’s call for a deal that would ensure the European country would not join NATO. and that it would stop expanding to the east.
United States support
Democratic and Republican US senators, charged with approving or rejecting the treaties, have vowed to act quickly to support Finland’s request. The Democratic chairman of the US Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee, Bob Menendez, ensured that the team “it is already working to ensure a quick vote.”
Stoltenberg welcomed Finland’s intention to submit its candidacy. “If Finland decides to apply (to join the alliance), it would be warmly received in NATO, and the accession process would be smooth and fast,” he said in a statement.
Favorable public opinion
The invasion of Ukraine caused Finnish public opinion to lean in favor of joining the Alliance. The same thing happens in Sweden. Right now 76 percent of the 5.5 million Finns are in favor of joining NATO, according to a survey published last Monday. Before the war in Ukraine this percentage was around 25 percent. in parliamentthe majority of the 200 deputies is also in favour.
The formal decision on accession must be taken by a Council on security and foreign policy that brings together the head of state, the prime minister and several ministers. “Joining NATO is not a decision that goes against anyone,” the Finnish president said Wednesday night, responding to Russian warnings on the matter.