In a historic policy change brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that drew a warning from Moscow of “countermeasures,” Finland officially joined NATO on Tuesday, with its flag unfurling outside the military alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.
As the war in Ukraine drags on with no end in sight, Finland’s accession, which ends seven decades of military non-alignment, approximately doubles the length of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) shared border with Russia and strengthens its eastern flank.
The 30 other members of the alliance’s flag were raised alongside Finland’s, which is a blue cross on a white background, as a military band performed in the bright spring sunlight.
At the event, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, “For almost 75 years, this great alliance has shielded our nations and continues to do so today. But war has returned to Europe and Finland has decided to join NATO and be part of the world’s most successful alliance.”
Earlier, Stoltenberg pointed out that one of Vladimir Putin’s justifications for invading Ukraine was his resistance to NATO’s eastward expansion. He is receiving the exact opposite, according to Stoltenberg, who added that Sweden will shortly join the alliance as a full member along with Finland today.
Saul Niinisto, the president of Finland, stated that defending its own territory would be Finland’s most important contribution to NATO’s common deterrence and defence. He said there is still a lot of coordination with NATO to be done.
At a joint press conference with Stoltenberg, Niinisto said, “It is a great day for Finland and I want to say that it is an important day for NATO.”
Russia would be required to implement “countermeasures,” according to the Kremlin. According to Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s minister of defense, Finland’s entry increased the likelihood that the war in Ukraine would worsen. Russia’s Foreign Ministry claimed that by abandoning non-alignment, Finland was making a grave historical error that would damage ties with Moscow and undermine its position as a reassuring presence in the Baltic Sea and throughout Europe.
A statement from the ministry said, “This is now a thing of the past. Finland has become one of the small members of (NATO) that doesn’t decide anything, losing its special voice in international affairs. We are sure that history will judge this hasty step.”
In reaction to Finland joining NATO, Russia declared on Monday that it would increase its military capability in its west and northwest. Finland’s action was praised by Ukraine.
In his evening address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, “I congratulate all the people of Finland. Russian aggression clearly proves that only collective guarantees, only preventive guarantees, can be reliable.”
Non Alignment theory
After Finland successfully repelled a Soviet invasion attempt during World War Two and decided to keep friendly ties with its neighbor Russia, the country’s period of strategic non-alignment started.
Finns sought security under NATO’s collective defense agreement, which stipulates that an assault on one member is an attack on all, in response to the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, though.
Moscow has observed successive waves of NATO expansion since the end of the Cold War three decades ago, and the topic was divisive even before the invasion of Ukraine.