Finland Wants to Get Into NATO as Soon as Possible!

Published May 12th, 2022 - 08:54 GMT
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto addresses a press conference with the British Prime Minister at the Presidential palace in Helsinki, Finland on May 11, 2022. (Photo by Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP)
Highlights
Finland's leaders announce support for NATO membership

Finland's president and the prime minister announced their support for joining NATO on Thursday, moving the historically neutral nation closer to apply for membership with the defensive military alliance.

The widely expected statement from President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin came as Russia's war in Ukraine, which nears three months old, has raised worries over fighting expanding throughout Europe.

"Finland must apply for NATO memberships without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days," the pair said.

The announcement follows the Finnish government last month adopting a report on changes to its security environment amid the Russian war. While the report did not present an opinion on whether it should join NATO it said NATO's collective defense will "be strengthened in the long term."

The report also stated that support for NATO memberships has "risen significantly" in both Finland and Sweden, which is also expected to seek to join the military alliance soon.

In the statement Thursday, the politicians said Finland's citizenry has discussing its potential membership with NATO and that they wanted to give the discuss the space it required.

"Now that moment of decision-making is near, we state our equal views, also for information to the parliamentary groups and parties," they said. "NATO membership would strengthen Finland's security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance."

Russia has repeatedly warned both Finland and Sweden, as well as other nations, against joining NATO.

The United States has voiced support for both Nordic nations to join the alliance with Julianne Smith, the U.S. permanent representative to NATO, telling reporters during a briefing early last month while they have to make their own decisions "we would welcome these two members."

"We find that they already bring tremendous value to the alliance," she said. "They have a very close relationship. And, of course as I noted, they are now joining us for some North Atlantic Council meeting here in NATO Headquarters on a regular basis."

She added that both nations have made "important contributions" to Ukraine and they have joined NATO in several operations over the years.

 

"We've exercised, we've trained with them. They bring very capable militaries. They are some of our closest allies in Europe, and so I can't imagine a situation where there would be tremendous resistance to this idea," she said. "Quite the contrary, I think NATO allies would be generally enthusiastic."

Finland's ministry of foreign affairs has also recently stated that Helsinki has recently deepened its cooperation with the alliance.

The announcement on Thursday comes a day after both Finland and Sweden signed mutual security protection declarations with Britain. The declarations include protections for both traditional and cyberattacks amid growing threats from Russia.

The declarations are expected to remain in effect during the two countries' yearlong process to join NATO.

Talks of countries joining NATO and Europe's 27-member bloc have increased since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, resulting in the deaths of nearly 3,500 civilians and forcing nearly 6 million to flee the country, according to United Nations data.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told lawmakers during a budget congressional meeting Wednesday that Russia is unlikely to attack a NATO member as that would be a "game-changer."

He said if Russian President Vladimir Putin did hit a NATO ally the coalition would mostly likely respond.

"NATO has the most advanced capabilities of any alliance in the world, in terms of aircraft, ships, types of weaponry that the ground forces use," he said. "This is a fight that he really doesn't want to have."

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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