Finland has officially become the 31st member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), it has also made a major shift in the security landscape in North Eastern Europe that not only adds some 1,300 kilometers (830 miles) to the alliance’s frontier with Russia.
The Nordic Nation’s accession was sealed during a formal ceremony at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday; the US security of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was on hand as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pekka Haavisto, established Finland’s accession.
“Each country maximizes its security. So, does Finland at the same time, NATO membership strengthen our international position and have room for maneuvering? As a partner, we have long actively participated in NATO activities in the future, Finland will contribute to NATO’s collective deterrence and defense,” it added.
Finland’s acceptance into the US–led security alliance presents a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has sought to undermine NATO, and before invading Ukraine, demanded the bloc refrain from further expansion.
The invasion instead drove non–aligned Finland and Sweden to abandon their neutrality and seek protection within NATO, through Sweden’s attempted protection within NATO, though Sweden’s attempt to join the bloc has been stalled by alliance members Turkey and Hungary.
On the eve of Tuesday’s ceremony, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg heralded the raising of the Finnish flag for the first time at the alliance’s headquarters in Belgium, saying “It will be a good day for Finland’s security for Nordic security, and NATO as a whole.”
Russia has warned that further NATO expansion will not bring stability to Europe, and on Monday said that it would scale up forces near Finland if they sent troops or equipment to the new member country.
“We will strengthen our military capabilities in the West and the Northwest if NATO members deploy forces and equipment on Finnish territory.” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Finland’s accession will force Moscow to “take countermeasures to ensure our security, both tactically and strategically.”
Russia shared about 1,215 kilometers (755 miles)of land border with five NATO members Finland’s accession more than doubles NATO’s land border with Russia.
Stoltenberg said Putin had “failed” in his attempt to “slam NATO’s door shut”, “Today, we show the world that he failed, that aggression and intimidation do not work. Instead of less NATO, he has achieved the opposite – more NATO – and our door remains firmly open,” he added.
“Joining NATO is good for Finland. It is good for Nordic security and it is good for NATO. Finland brings substantial and highly capable forces expertise on national resilience and years of experience working side by side with NATO allies.”
Benefits of Finland in the membership alliance
Finland’s NATO membership guarantees the Northern European nation access to the resources of the entire alliance in the event of an attack, it includes the protection offered by NATO’s Article 5 principle, which states that an attack on all members. It’s been a cornerstone of the 30-member alliance since it was founded in 1949 as a counterweight to the Soviet Union.
NATO membership also better integrates Finnish forces in training and planning with NATO allies; the country is no stranger to working with NATO, with its troops regularly participating in NATO exercises under a partner status.
The Finnish Defense Force also operates some of the same weapon systems as other NATO members, including US–made F/A – 18 fighters, German–designed Leopard main battle tanks, and K9 Howitzers used by Norway and Estonia among others.
Helsinki has also signed on to the F-35 stealth fighter program, which will allow its force to work smoothly with NATO members including the US, UK, Norway, Italy, Canada, Poland, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
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