Finland’s entrance into the intergovernmental military organization comes after Turkey became the final NATO member to approve the Nordic country’s application for membership, which was first filed in May 2022.
“Finland will formally join our Alliance in the coming days. Their membership will make Finland safer and NATO stronger. I look forward to also welcoming Sweden as a full member of the NATO family as soon as possible,” said Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general.
The move, which was opposed by Russia, comes as Sweden is also attempting to join the alliance, which has vigorously opposed Russia during its war with Ukraine.
“NATO membership will strengthen Finland’s security and improve stability and security in the Baltic Sea region and Northern Europe,” Finland’s government said after Turkey approved their membership.
Turkey had voiced objections to Finland’s support for certain Kurdish groups which it opposes. Those concerns were apparently rectified before Turkey voted to accept Finland.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been supportive of allowing both Finland and Sweden into the organization. “Both countries have taken significant, concrete actions to fulfill their commitments, including those related to the security concerns on the part of our ally, Turkey,” he said in December. “As their membership process continues, the United States is fully committed to Finland and Sweden’s accession.”
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin first announced their intent to join NATO nearly a year ago at a joint news conference in Helsinki. The long-neutral nation shares an 830-mile-long border with Russia, which has spooked neighboring nations with its attack on Ukraine.
NATO was founded in 1949 to counter the threat from the Soviet Union. Russian President Vladimir Putin has complained that it is encroaching on his country and blamed Ukraine’s desire to join as one of the reasons for the ongoing invasion. The last country to join was North Macedonia in 2020.
According to NATO stipulations, an attack on one is an attack on all, meaning that all member countries are obligated to get involved when one is attacked.
Stoltenberg recently said that he believes that NATO members need to increase military production of weapons and ammunition to sustain “support for Ukraine.”