Finland’s president and prime minister have said the country should apply to join NATO in the face of Russian aggression.
The major policy change was announced today in a joint statement by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” Niinisto and Marin said.
“We hope that the national steps that are still necessary to make this decision will be taken quickly in the coming days.
‘Now that the moment of decision-making is near, we will give our equal positions, also for information to the groups and parties. NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security.’
The major policy change was announced today in a joint statement by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin (pictured) today
Finland, which shares an 810-mile border and has a troubled past with Russia, has previously stayed out of NATO
Finland, which shares an 810-mile border and has a troubled past with Russia, has previously remained outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to maintain friendly relations with its eastern neighbour.
Earlier this morning, former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said: “I’ve waited 30 years for this day.
‘Announcement on Finnish NATO membership imminent.’
Sweden is expected to soon follow Finland with an application to join the Western Military Pact.
The Scandinavian countries are confused by Moscow’s war against its pro-Western neighbor, which has bolstered domestic support for alliance entry — and the security that membership would provide.
NATO boosted fire from Forward Presence battlegroup tanks and infantry fighting vehicles during Iron Spear exercises in Latvia yesterday
Why are Sweden and Finland not in NATO?
Both Finland and Sweden have been militarily non-aligned since World War II.
Sweden maintained its policy of neutrality – which had begun in the early 1800s – throughout the war to avoid getting involved in a conflict that engulfed the nearby powers of Germany and the Soviet Union.
Instead, Sweden took advantage of its neutrality by exporting iron ore to the Nazis and sharing military intelligence with the Allies and training their fugitive soldiers.
Meanwhile, Finland changed sides in the conflict, first being invaded by Joseph Stalin and assisting the Nazis, before fighting Hitler’s troops.
When NATO was formed in 1949 for a Western military alliance, Sweden decided not to join and to continue its neutrality, adopting a security policy that ensured its non-alignment in peace and neutrality in war.
In 1994 Stockholm decided to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme, which aimed to build trust between member states and other European countries, but so far it has not expressed a desire to fully commit itself to the to join the alliance.
Finland is also a PfP member, but has similarly declared its intention to remain neutral since the war.
The EU member state was part of the Russian Empire and gained independence during the Russian Revolution of 1917, but almost lost it in the struggle against the Soviet Union in World War II.
After being invaded by Russia in 1939 and sharing a long border with the superpower, Finland wanted to stay out of future conflicts and give it the freedom to maintain strong relations with Moscow and the West while enjoying a free market economy.
Any expansion of NATO will no doubt provoke anger at Vladimir Putin, who has warned Sweden and Finland against joining.
The Russian tyrant has historically pushed back any expansion of the alliance eastward and has strongly condemned any idea of Ukraine’s accession. He claimed that Ukraine’s close relationship with the West was one of the reasons for his invasion.
But Moscow’s mounting warnings and threatening rhetoric only seem to bolster Finland’s and Sweden’s determination to join.
It comes after Britain pledged yesterday to come to Sweden and Finland for help should any of the countries come under Russian attack.
Boris Johnson signed security pacts with his Swedish and Finnish colleagues during visits to the countries on Wednesday.
According to the pacts, British troops could be sent to the two nations in the event of a Russian invasion by the “21st-century tyrant” Putin – who has threatened “military and political consequences” if either country joins NATO. alliance joins.
After signing the pact yesterday, Niinisto said he did not see joining the military alliance as a “zero sum game.” “Joining NATO would be against no one,” said the Finnish president.
Describing the statement as a “critical moment in our shared history,” Johnson added: “It’s crucial because…the Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed the equation of European security and rewritten our reality and reshaped our future.” .
“We have seen the end of the post-Cold War era and the invasion of Ukraine has sadly opened a new chapter.”
Finland shares a long land border with Russia and is only about 250 miles from Saint Petersburg.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has caused a rapid turnaround in Finnish and Swedish public opinion in favor of NATO membership, which until recently had had little support.
A poll published Monday by Finnish public broadcaster Yle shows that a record 76 percent of Finns are now in favor of joining the alliance, up from the stable 20 to 30 percent recorded in recent years.
Public opinion has also risen sharply in Sweden, albeit at a lower level, with about half of Swedes now in favour.
Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party said Monday it would make its position known on the NATO issue on May 15. A favorable position would yield a clear parliamentary majority for an application.
Elisabeth Braw, a Nordic defense expert at the American Enterprise Institute, told AFP that while Stockholm seems more hesitant than Helsinki, she believes the two countries will “make the application at the same time.”
Traditionally accustomed to lengthy discussions on key issues leading to consensus, Sweden was caught off guard by Finland’s rapid turnaround.
“The Social Democrats in Sweden have always said, ‘We will think about it if Finland joins’… because they thought Finland would never join,” Braw said.
When Russia last tried to conquer Finland… and failed
More than 80 years ago, tiny Finland took power from the Soviet Union when dictator Joseph Stalin ordered an invasion after the government refused to give up significant territory.
During the Winter War of 1939-40—which began less than three months after the start of World War II—the Finnish armed forces used innovative tactics to defy Russia’s hopes of a quick, emphatic victory that could have put Stalin in control of the entire country. .
Instead, Soviet troops — numbering about a million — were fiercely fought over for nearly three months, with dramatic photos showing how vehicles and equipment had to be abandoned in the face of opposition and the freezing cold.
During that time, Russia suffered more than 300,000 casualties – including 126,900 dead – and lost up to 3,500 tanks and about 500 aircraft.
In comparison, Finland lost 25,900 men out of an initial force of about 300,000.
Stories of Finnish exploits include that of a Finnish peasant who became the deadliest sniper in history after killing 505 Soviet troops.
During the fighting, Finland also pioneered the use of the makeshift grenade, the Molotov cocktail, which was named after the Soviet Union’s foreign minister.
But in the end, the sheer numerical superiority of the Soviet Union’s troops took its toll and the Finnish government was eventually forced to sign a peace agreement that forced them to give up about ten percent of their territory.
Despite the defeat, Finland emerged with its sovereignty intact and its international reputation enhanced, while the Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations and condemned by other world leaders for the illegal invasion.
Finnish sniper Simo Häyhä turned out to be a hero after collecting the most sniper kills in warfare history.
At the age of 33 when war broke out, Häyhä quickly acquired a fearsome reputation for striking the enemy unseen and unheard of from hidden positions up to 300 meters from his target.
Nicknamed The White Death, Häyhä was a prime target for the Soviets, who attacked him with mortars and heavy artillery to stop his massacre, which once claimed 25 men in one day.
Finland then allied with Nazi Germany against the Soviets in what was known as the Continuation War in 1941, during which Helsinki attempted to recapture its lost territories.
After a ceasefire was agreed in Moscow during the 1944 armistice, Finland was ordered to expel Nazi troops stationed in the country, leading to the Lapland War with Germany.
Under the Paris Peace Treaty, Finland was classified as an ally of Nazi Germany and ordered to pay reparations.
The country subsequently pursued a policy of neutrality and maintained a free market economy and democracy despite a strong relationship with the Soviet Union.
Source: New feed