Map of Finland with NATO flag

Turkey and Hungary gave their approval for Finland to join NATO last week—clearing the way for the Nordic country to more than double the Alliance’s current border with Russia. 

NATO allies need to all be in agreement when outside countries apply for membership.

Finland shares an expansive, 830-mile border with Russia and was invaded by its neighbor during WWII, which resulted in a brutal confrontation that ultimately resulted in Helsinki and Moscow signing a peace treaty in 1948, which included Finland’s assurances that it will not join NATO. The mood shifted in the country after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, he said that his country’s “special operation” was a preemptive move to terminate NATO’s “endless” expansion toward Russia.

Finland and Sweden both said they would apply for NATO membership last year. Sweden’s application has been held up by Turkey. 

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement last May that they believe NATO membership would “strengthen” security and also strengthen the alliance. Niinisto said he hopes Finland joins NATO “without delay.”

Finland has a formidable military although it only has a population of 5.5 million. The country has about the same number of reservists as Germany with a population of 83 million.

“Finland is one of the very few European countries that never stopped preparing for a potential war,” Minna Alander, a research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, told VOA News.

Finland stands to become the Alliance’s 31st member after the Turkish parliament voted for its approval. noted that Finland will likely be formally admitted into NATO at the next summit in July in Vilnius. 

The report noted that the approval was seen as a significant escalation by the Alliance against Moscow and said Russia will be completely surrounded by NATO adversaries in the Baltic Sea once Sweden becomes a member.

“I look forward to raising Finland’s flag at NATO HQ in the coming days,” Jens Stoltenberg, the Alliance’s head, tweeted. “Together, we are stronger and safer.” 

Olga Skabeyeva, a Russia-1 host, said Finland is “our historical land” and urged Moscow to take action. 

“We have to liberate the brotherly Finnish people,” she said, according to Newsweek.

TRENDPOST: NATO officials have said they will speed up the process for Finland if it applies for membership, which is a stark reminder that Ukraine was denied full membership prior to the war against Russia. (See “FROM NEUTRAL TO NATO: FINLAND, SWEDEN WANT TO JOIN NATO; TURKEY STANDS IN THE WAY” 17 May 2022, “SENATE EASILY APPROVES RESOLUTION TO BRING FINLAND, SWEDEN INTO NATO” 9 Aug 2022 and “RUSSIA WARNS FINLAND AND SWEDEN: DON’T JOIN NATO” 26 Apr 2022.)

The WSWS report noted that the claim that Finland’s membership is intended to ensure “security” would make George Orwell blush. The website said the move actually presents a situation that resembles the first half of the 20th century, “when the world’s great powers sought to repartition the world in their interests.”

The website said the Finnish middle class “served as willing accomplices of the imperialist powers as they sought to inflict a military defeat on the Soviet Union and turn the area that is now Russia and the former Soviet republics into the direct possessions of American, German, and British capital for ruthless plunder. The report blamed Marin and Niinistö for following the same path. 

Finland will form a new government after Sunday’s election that will result in Marin leaving her leadership position. Finland’s National Coalition Party, which is considered “center-right,” won with 20.8 percent of the vote. Marin’s Social Democrats came in third place with 19.9 percent.

Marin was criticized for further hurting the country’s economy during the energy crisis and inflation is up to 8.8 percent. But support for Ukraine is still strong in Finland and NATO membership continues to be a popular position. Polls say nearly 80 percent of Finns support NATO membership.

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