December 1, 2023

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Finland set to join NATO in historic shift

2 min read

HELSINKI/BRUSSELS — Finland will become a member of NATO on Tuesday, completing a historic security policy shift triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while neighbor Sweden is kept in the waiting room.

The military alliance will welcome Finland as its 31st member in a flag-raising ceremony at NATO headquarters on the outskirts of Brussels, attended by Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and government ministers.

“It will be a good day for Finland’s security, for Nordic security and for NATO as a whole,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Monday.

The event marks the end of an era of military non-alignment for Finland that began after the country repelled an invasion attempt by the Soviet Union during World War II and opted to try to maintain friendly relations with neighboring Russia.

But Russia’s recent invasion of another neighbor, Ukraine, which began in February 2022, prompted Finns to seek security under the umbrella of NATO’s collective defense pact, which states that an attack on one member is an attack on all.

Sweden underwent a similar transformation in defense thinking and Stockholm and Helsinki applied together last year to join NATO. But Sweden’s application has been held up by NATO members Turkey and Hungary.

After both those countries approved Finland’s application last week, the final formal step on Helsinki’s journey will come when Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto hands his nation’s accession document to US government officials in Brussels.

Finland’s flag will then be raised outside NATO headquarters alongside those of the alliance’s 30 other member countries before a gathering of NATO foreign ministers.

Finland’s accession roughly doubles the length of the border that NATO shares with Russia. Moscow said on Monday it would strengthen its military capacity in its western and northwestern regions in response to Finland joining NATO.

Even before Finland formally joined the alliance,…


2023-04-04 05:59:35

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