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How Would Russia React If Finland Joins NATO?

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Finland is one step away from joining NATO, a historic decision that puts the world on alert following threats of military action by Russia. On the one hand, Finland has the right to join the military body, and on the other Vladimir Putin warns that he will take action — perhaps as with Ukraine — in retaliation for this decision.

President of Finland Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin gave their support for the country’s entry into the defensive alliance. Both had remained silent so as not to influence the public debate on the issue.

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days,” the two leaders said in a joint statement.

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According to Niinistö and Marin, NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security and, in turn, the Nordic country would make the military alliance stronger. The decision breaks with more than 8 decades of neutrality.

“Time has been needed to let Parliament and the whole society establish their stands on the matter. Time has been needed for close international contacts with NATO and its member countries, as well as with Sweden. We have wanted to give the discussion the space it required,” they explained.

César Sabas, an expert in international relations and security, explained to El American that in order for it to be a definitive step, Finland will now have to make a formal request and then a NATO review; subsequently, at a summit of heads of state the members will accept its official entry.

The next NATO Summit will be held in Madrid on June 29-30, so it is expected that approval of Finland’s membership will be officially given at that event.

“We should consider beforehand that Finland and Sweden are considered semi-NATO states, since although they have had a tradition of neutrality, historically they have had very close cooperation, which facilitates their entry into the alliance,” said the specialist.

Sabas explained that if Finland were to join NATO, it would gain protection: “As a NATO member, its territory falls under Article 5, which obliges all member states to assist Finland in the event of an attack,” he added.

However, the situation may become more complicated, as Russia considers that Finland’s membership in NATO would be a threat, so he assured that “there will be serious military consequences.”

Finland “must be aware of the responsibility and consequences” of joining NATO, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday, adding that Russia “will be forced” to take retaliatory measures if the country joins the alliance.

“Finland joining NATO is a radical change in the country’s foreign policy. Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop threats to its national security arising,” adds the text from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Russia’s threat puts the world on alert after Putin decided to invade Ukraine on the grounds that he considered Kyiv’s possible accession to NATO an alleged threat to its security.

For Sabas, Russia invading Finland as it did Ukraine is an “unlikely scenario, but one that should not be ruled out.”

“A violent scenario would be the seizure of a very small part of Finland, it may be only a very small population, and that way it would force the whole NATO to go to war with Russia to liberate that population in case of Finland’s entry,” he explained.

“Finland is not for the Russians as important as Ukraine is, and already in Ukraine itself they are feeling significant attrition. I think that some military mobilization towards the border with Finland is more likely, without violent actions and with a view, not so much to prevent Finland’s entry into the alliance, but to have some kind of commitment whereby NATO would not build military bases in Finland,” the specialist added.

Finland shares almost 1,400 kilometers of border with Russia. Precisely security and NATO’s proximity to its borders were some of Putin’s reasons for invading Ukraine.

What will happen to Finland if it becomes a NATO member?

Sabas explained that Finland’s accession would allow NATO to have a greater presence in the Baltic Sea, affecting the correlation of forces with Russia.

“That will give Russia more impetus to seek to finish conquering what is left of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast and thereby increase its strength in the Black Sea and compensate for the loss of power in the Baltic,” the specialist said.

The internationalist pointed out that Finland would be prepared to confront Russia, especially because the geography favors it.

“Finland has very dense forests, suitable for ambushing Russian tank columns, so if Russia were to do anything, which I don’t see as likely, it would be very limited,” he said.

Although Putin is not likely to back down from his intention to seize Ukrainian territory, President Volodymir Zelensky welcomed Finland’s decision to join NATO.

In a message on his Twitter account, Zelensky reported that in a telephone conversation with the Finnish authorities he “commended Finland’s readiness to apply for NATO membership.”

NATO opens its doors to Finland

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has assured after learning of Finland’s decision that the Alliance is ready to integrate the Nordic country “swiftly” if it applies for membership.

“This is a sovereign decision by Finland, which NATO fully respects,” Stoltenberg said. “Should Finland decide to apply, they would be warmly welcomed into NATO and the accession process would be smooth and swift,” he said.

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