- Finland announced that it would abandon decades of neutrality and ask to join NATO.
- Sweden could do the same in a matter of days.
- Russia reacted by warning that it will be forced to take “technical-military” measures in retaliation.
Finland’s leaders voted Thursday in favor of applying for NATO membership and Sweden could do the same within days. It would be a historic realignment on the continent two and a half months after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine caused a shiver of fear among Moscow’s neighbors, according to The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, on the ground Russian forces attacked areas in eastern Ukraine, including the last pocket of resistance in Mariupol, as part of their push to seize the vital industrial region of Donbas, while Ukraine recaptured some towns and villages in the northeast part of the country.
Russia speaks out after Finland’s decision
The Kremlin reacted to Finland’s announcement by warning that it will be forced to take “military-technical” measures in retaliation. Finland’s president and prime minister have announced that the Nordic country should immediately apply for membership in NATO, the military defense pact founded in part to counter the Soviet Union.
“You (Russia) caused this. Look in the mirror,” Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said this week. While its Parliament has yet to weigh in, the announcement means Finland will almost certainly apply and gain admission, though the process could take months to complete. Sweden, likewise, is considering applying to NATO. Filed Under: Finland NATO.
What would this represent for Russia?
While its Parliament has yet to weigh in, the announcement means Finland will almost certainly apply and gain admission, though the process could take months to complete. Sweden, likewise, is considering applying.
That would represent a major shift in Europe’s security landscape: Sweden has eschewed military alliances for more than 200 years, while Finland embraced neutrality after its defeat by the Soviets in World War II. Public opinion in both nations shifted sharply in favor of NATO membership after the invasion of Ukraine, sparking fears in countries along Russia’s flank that they could be next. Filed Under: Finland NATO.
What measures will Putin take?
Such an expansion of the alliance would leave Russia surrounded by NATO countries in the Baltic Sea and the Arctic and would amount to a severe setback for Putin, who had hoped to split and push back NATO in Europe, but instead is seeing exactly the opposite taking place.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would welcome Finland and Sweden with open arms. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned that Moscow “will be forced to take retaliatory military-technical and other measures to counter emerging threats to its national security.” Filed Under: Finland NATO.