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Why did Finland Join NATO?

Written by Serene Joshua, contributing writer.

Finland became a member of NATO on 4th April 2023 almost a year after applying for membership on 18 May 2022.

By I Kid You Not , in World News , at April 15, 2023

Written by Serene Joshua, contributing writer

You must be aware of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

Due to this war, many countries that are geographically near Russia have taken precautions regarding their security as well. One such country is Finland.

Today, we’ll tell you about why Finland is joining and what NATO is.
Read on (it’s explained simply)

Finland joins NATO

Finland Flag

Finland became a member of NATO on 4th April 2023 almost a year after applying for membership on 18 May 2022.

But why did Finland do this? And what is NATO?

In a nutshell, Finland shares a 1340 km border with Russia and due to this and the potential threat from Russia, the country applied for membership shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which took place on 24 February 2022. 

Short and sweet- Why did Finland join NATO?

  • Historically, Finland has been a neutral country, it neither supported Russia nor was it part of NATO.
  • After Russia’s invasion on Ukraine, Finland became a member of NATO,as they felt they were under threat as well.
  • Russia is less likely to expand its influence to Finland, now that it is a member of NATO.
  • Russia stated that if NATO sent any troops to Finland  it would strengthen its own forces as well

What is NATO? 

NATO Flag

Let’s briefly look at what exactly NATO is.

NATO or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949 by 12 countries, including the United States, Canada, and other Western European countries, and the goal was to provide collective security against the Soviet Union for North American and European countries.  

Currently, NATO has 31 member countries, and Finland was the latest, making it the 31st country to join the organization. Although it was formed as a defense against the Soviet Union, according to its current charter it will join an alliance and provide security to any member country under threat.

This means that if a country that is not a member of NATO decides to attack a member country within NATO, all other 30 countries will come to its aid. 

This alliance is called Article 5 of NATO which states that “an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all”

So, it’s like going to war with 30 countries!

This is a major reason as to why countries, including Finland, want to join NATO as no country will have the resources or will to go to war with its members.

Why does Finland want to join NATO? 

Helsinki – Finland’s capital

Due to the protection, Finland will get from NATO it is pretty obvious why it has joined NATO, but that isn’t the only reason.

Historically, Finland has been a neutral country. This means that it neither supported Russia nor the Soviet Union nor was it part of NATO. 

However, after Russia invaded Ukraine, leaders of Finland got the impression that Russia did not respect this status of neutrality as Ukraine was a neutral country as well, and if Russia invaded Ukraine despite its neutral status, it could do the same to Finland.

Therefore, in order to prevent this and in order to protect the country’s safety, shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland finally decided to join NATO.

NATO, abiding by Article 5 will ensure that all member countries will be protected by other member countries against any threat.

Why Did Finland take so long? 

NATO has always had an open-door policy, meaning that it welcomed and encouraged countries in Europe to join the alliance in order to gain protection.

NATO sounds like a great organization right? So why did Finland take so long to join? 

Well, for that we need to look back in history.

Finland has kept a position of neutrality in its relations with both Russia and NATO, and only after the Cold War did Finland begin exploring whether it should join NATO.

After World War 2, Finland decided to be a sovereign and independent state, not forming an alliance with any parties.

During the Cold War, the Soviet union put pressure on Finland to stop it from opposing any foreign policies that the Soviet Union had at the time in exchange for allowing Finland to keep its independence. This process was called Finlandization

Finlandization also did not allow Finland to join NATO, and NATO was a major opposition to Russia at the time.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union between 1988 to 1991, issues that posed a threat to Finland’s independence by the Soviet Union decreased as well,

Later on, in 1994 Finland began its ties with NATO and officially assisted NATO in many endeavors after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and during the end of the Cold War, Finland joining NATO became a topic of discussion.

Some of these included the Partnership for Peace program where Finland provided resources for keeping peace in both Kosovo and Afghanistan.

However, despite all this, the future governments of Finland did not feel the need to join NATO as they saw no threats to their nation and remained with their position of neutrality and if there were future threats they would always have the option to join NATO.

Well, future threats are exactly what happened.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland became a member of NATO on 4th April 2023 almost a year after applying for membership on 18 May 2022 as they felt they were under threat as well.

What does this mean? 

Know that we know exactly why Finland joined NATO, you might be wondering what this means. How has this changed Finland? How does this benefit Finland? What are its effects on Russia?

Let’s take a look!

As mentioned before, article 5 of the NATO charter states that “an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all”.

This means that if a country that is not a member of NATO decides to attack a member country within NATO, all other 30 countries will come to its aid. 

So Russia is less likely to expand its influence to Finland, now that it is a member of NATO.

Additionally, Finland is a great asset and benefit to NATO.

This is because Russia and Finland are neighbours who share a 1340 km border. So, Finland’s membership with Russia heightens security in the eastern region of Russia and other NATO countries can easily send resources to this border to strengthen security. 

Finland also has a modern military, which means that they possess the latest equipment that NATO uses as well, so this will increase the resources NATO has. This includes 64 F-35 fighter planes.

No wonder NATO was keen on Finland joining, it proves to be a great addition!

What was the response? 

As mentioned before, for long periods of time, Finland remained neutral and its recent membership to NATO was not something that Russia took lightly.

Russia, in response, warned the international community that the expansion of NATO, including Finland, does not help to bring stability to Europe as a whole.

Russia further stated that if NATO sent any troops to Finland, near Russia’s borders, it would strengthen its own forces near the border as well.

A spokesperson for Russia, Dmitry Peskov, also stated that NATO’s actions were forcing Moscow to take measures to ensure its security.

However, there has been a positive response from members within NATO. 

During the ceremony in Belgium where Finland gained membership, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that “it will be a good day for Finland’s security, for Nordic security, and for NATO as a whole.”

US Secretary of State Anthony Bilkin ensured that both Finland and NATO would benefit from the alliance as it will make both parties “stronger and safer”

Finland is not the only country that wants to join NATO, sweden does too

Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s Prime Minister, said that if Sweden were the only country in the Baltic Sea region that was not a member of NATO, it would be put in a very vulnerable position. She said that it could not be ruled out that Russia would then increase pressure on Sweden.

With more countries wanting to join NATO this will ensure a strong hindrance and defense for Europe against Russia’s threats.


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