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How Finland’s NATO membership could change the balance of power

Finland “must immediately apply for NATO membership,” the country’s president and prime minister have declared in a landmark policy shift sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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In a joint statement, Sauli Niinisto and Sanna Marin said a decision on whether Helsinki would submit an application for membership was expected within a few days. Membership “would strengthen Finland’s security” while “Finland would strengthen the overall defense alliance,” they added.

An opinion poll last week showed that “76% support Finland and 12% oppose joining NATO”. BBC reports – and reveals “a big push towards membership” since Vladimir Putin gave the order to invade Ukraine.

Welcome on board

Finland is expected to “formally announce its decision on Sunday,” the BBC reported, “after it has been scrutinized by Parliament and other senior politicians.” On the same day, it is to be announced whether Sweden will also apply to join NATO.

Finland shares an 810-mile border with Russia and has historically “stayed out of NATO so as not to upset its eastern neighbor,” the broadcaster said.

But if that policy is reversed, the admissions process is likely to progress “quite quickly,” said coalition secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

According to five diplomats and officials, this assessment was confirmed Reuters. The unnamed insiders reportedly described how Russia’s attack on Ukraine forced “a radical rethink of European security.”

They told the news outlet that during the year-long ratification of Finland and Sweden’s membership, NATO will “increase its troop presence in the Nordic region, hold more military exercises and naval patrols in the Baltic Sea, and potentially rotate US and British forces” between the two new member countries.

Flank reinforced

Like Finland’s current leaders, former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb has argued that his country’s admission would strengthen NATO and “maximize security in Europe”.

Finland has always been a vocal supporter of “EU defense cooperation,” Stubb wrote in an article for the financial times. And the country is “an ideal security asset for the alliance” because it has “one of the largest artillery, the best reconnaissance and the most advanced cyber capabilities in Europe”.

BBC Security correspondent Frank Gardner agreed that Finland, as a “modern” and “democratic” nation, met all the criteria for membership.

A preliminary “military integration” with NATO member states is already underway, continued Gardner, who noted that “British tank crews recently trained with a Finnish tank brigade alongside US, Latvian and Estonian troops.”

From a “military point of view” the admission of Finland would be “a major boost for NATO’s defense power in northern Europe, where it is massively outnumbered by Russian forces”. And geographically, it “fills a huge gap” in the alliance’s line of defense, he added.

foreign policy Senior correspondent Michael Hirsh argued that Finland’s decision to join NATO “could tip the balance against Putin for good.”

Aside from the “losing of Ukraine,” Hirsh said, Helsinki’s decision to abandon its “post-Cold War non-aligned policy” was the Russian president’s “worst nightmare.”

In other words, Finland “could give Putin his biggest defeat yet.”

saber rattling

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned last month that if Finland and Sweden join NATO, Moscow will try to “redress the situation” by taking its own measures.

Peskov declined to say what Russia’s response might entail. But Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council, later warned in a Telegram post that Russia could end “talk about a nuclear-weapon-free status for the Baltic States.”

Finland’s entry into the alliance would be a “strategic debacle” for the Kremlin, he said The times’ Berlin correspondent Oliver Moody. The invasion of Ukraine was part of Putin’s push to prevent further expansion of the alliance, but Russia could end up with “Nato soldiers just under 100 miles from St. Petersburg,” the president’s hometown.

The risk, according to the BBC’s Gardner, is that “so much NATO expansion right on Russia’s doorstep alarms and enrages the Kremlin that it responds with some sort of beating.”

Putin is already accusing NATO of “frustrating” his plan “to take over Ukraine,” Gardner added. If the Kremlin now decides that “this sudden expansion” “poses an existential threat to Russia’s security, then one does not know exactly what Moscow might do about it”.

Whatever the president’s initial goals, Stubb told the Financial Times, Finland’s entry into NATO “will go down in history as Putin’s enlargement.” If it weren’t for Russia’s attack on Ukraine, “it wouldn’t have happened.”

This “tactical and strategic blunder was the turning point,” the former prime minister wrote, showing the Finns that “if Putin can slaughter his Slavic brothers and sisters in Ukraine, there is nothing stopping him from doing the same elsewhere.”

https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/europe/956715/how-finland-joining-nato-could-alter-balance-of-power How Finland’s NATO membership could change the balance of power

Fry Electronics Team

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