Finland wants "immediately" Join NATO – Kremlin feels threatened

Agree on the desire to join NATO: Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin, here on their first visit to him after their election.

Agree on the desire to join NATO: Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin, here on their first visit to him after their election.Image: dpa / Jussi Nukari

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin have spoken out in favor of their country joining NATO “immediately”. In a joint statement on Thursday, 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.

It is expected that in the coming days the EU’s northernmost country – probably on Sunday – decides on a formal application for membership. This step would be a direct consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting changed security situation in Europe. For Finland, which was non-aligned for a long time and has a border that is more than 1,300 kilometers long Russia such a decision would be historic.

Direct consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Before the country can join NATO, all 30 current members must agree. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had recently signaled several times that there was broad support for this within the alliance.

Niinistö and Marin’s government ultimately decide together on the NATO issue, they have it Parliament involved 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. Positioning for or against such membership included the analysis but not.

According to the Kremlin, Finland’s NATO membership would be a “clear” threat

According to 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 the Russian borders “do not make the world and our continent more stable and safer”.

The Kremlin spokesman answered the question of whether Russia would see Finland’s NATO membership as a threat with “definitely”. “Everything will depend on how this process goes, how close the military infrastructure will be to our borders,” said Peskov.

Large majority for accession within the population

Finland and also the neighboring one Sweden are already close partners of NATO, but have not yet been 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 Finnish broadcaster Yle, 76 percent of respondents for Finland’s NATO membership apronounced.

During a visit by Marin and the Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson to the closed conference of the federal cabinet in Meseberg Berlin Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently promised German support for the countries joining NATO.

Sweden now under pressure

The Finnish announcement now increases the pressure on Sweden to make a timely decision on NATO membership. A separate security policy analysis was 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.

(fas/nik/dpa)

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