Finland, which has warred with Russia before, has announced it will submit an application to join NATO.
In response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin released a joint statement on Thursday. It could be months before NATO formally admits the country to its ranks.
Asked what he would say to Putin, Niinisto replied: “You caused this. Look in the mirror.”
The joint statement read in part, “NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance. Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay.”
Within hours of the Finnish announcement, Russia responded. Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to Putin, declared, “Finland’s entry into NATO will become a threat to Russia. … The next expansion of NATO does not make our continent more stable and secure. … Of course, all this will become elements for a special analysis and development of the necessary measures in order to balance the situation and ensure our security.”
If Finland is admitted to NATO, the alliance’s line on the border between itself and Russia would double, expanding from 754 miles to 1,584 miles, according to The Daily Mail.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto declared, “The NATO secretary general has said that this process will take between four and 12 months. My own impression is that it might be closer to four months than 12 months.”
Sweden may join Finland next week, the Daily Expressen reported.
“The major policy shift which completely rewrites Europe’s post WWII alignment comes a day after Boris Johnson signed security pacts with Helsinki and Stockholm pledging Britain would come to their aid if they come under Russian attack,” The Daily Mail noted.
Attending a press conference in Helsinki with Niinisto, Johnson stated, “The security declaration, the solemn declaration we have signed today, ensures that our two nations can intensify our partnership and take it to unparalleled heights, both latitudinal and metaphorical. … From the high north, to the Baltics and beyond, our armed forces will train, operate and exercise together, marrying our defense and security capabilities and formalizing a pledge that we will always come to one another’s aid.”
A poll conducted by Finnish public broadcaster Yle showed 76% of Finns supported joining NATO: that figure had languished between 20%-30% in recent years.
In the 14th century, after the peace treaty of 1323 between Sweden and Novgorod, eastern Finland was assigned to Novgorod (Russia) while western and southern Finland were assigned to Sweden. In the 1808-1809 war with Sweden, Russia conquered Finland.
The Finnish state was declared by Russian Emperor Alexander I, who made Helsinki the capital of Finland in 1812. In 1917, the Finnish Parliament approved the declaration of independence; Finland became a republic in the summer of 1919.
Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a nonaggression pact in 1939; it included a secret protocol that left Finland in the Soviet sphere, but Finland refused to allow the Soviet Union to build military bases there. Russia under Josef Stalin then attacked Finland in November 1939. The “Winter War” ended with southeastern Finland ceded to the Soviet Union.
After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Finland joined Germany to fight Russia, but native Jews and almost all refugees were safe from persecution. Ultimately Finland joined the Allies fighting the Nazis.