Finland has a 'sizeable majority' in favour of joining NATO
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Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said: “Putin’s efforts to stop NATO expansion are creating the exact opposite results. Finland could be next.” Despite warnings from Putin for the Nordic state to stay away from the alliance, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said a decision on whether or not to join would be made “during this spring”.
The country’s President Sauli Niinisto wrote on Facebook he had asked NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg for details on principles and steps for accepting new members in a March 28 phone call.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto confirmed to Reuters Finland’s leaders have discussed possible membership with “almost all” of NATO’s 30 members and are ready to submit a review to parliament by the middle of this month.
As per an investigation by the Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest newspaper, the result of the review is most certainly going to be an application.
According to more than a dozen sources “well aware of Finland’s NATO deliberations” that spoke to the publication, “several signs” show “Finland will most likely apply for a military alliance in NATO as early as this year”.
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Finland sharing an 830-mile border with Russia makes Helsinki’s decisions over its ties with Moscow more so critical.
Six weeks into the war, Ms Marin said: “We must keep in mind our goal: ensuring the security of Finland and Finns in all situations.”
After Finland halted its passenger rail services between Helsinki and St Petersburg last month, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto warned Putin’s order of troops into Ukraine on February 24 had “totally changed the security landscape in Finland”.
Run jointly by Finland and Russia’s national railways, the cross-border Allegro train was a symbol of cooperation between the two nations when it opened in 2010.
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But the terms of their partnership — even though freight services between the two cities resumed last week — changed when Russia invaded Ukraine.
Finland’s intelligence agency, Supo, cautioned the country could expect a sharp increase in Russian cyber attacks as well as bids to blackmail politicians in favour of joining NATO.
It said fake allegations of abuse of native Russians living in Finland might be used by the Kremlin to justify aggression.
The agency added: “Finnish society as a whole should be prepared for various measures from Russia seeking to influence policymaking in Finland on the NATO issue.”
The possibility of Ukraine ever joining NATO lies at the core of Russia’s pretext for its attacks — which the Kremlin calls a “special operation” — on Kyiv.
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But rather than putting states like Finland off from pursuing membership in the military alliance, it seems to have encouraged them.
A poll last week showed 61 percent of Finns are in favour of becoming part of NATO – up from the steady 20-25 percent figure of the last years.
Sweden, though more hesitant than Finland, has also significant interest in joining the alliance.
Mr Stoltenberg announced in early March NATO was now sharing all information on the war in Ukraine with Helsinki and Stockholm, and both countries regularly attend NATO meetings.
The NATO chief noted “no other countries in the world” are closer partners of the alliance. He emphasised, however, a crucial difference: “The absolute security guarantees that we provide for NATO allies, are only for NATO allies.”
Russian Foreign Ministry Second European Department Director Sergei Belyayev told the Interfax news agency on March 12: “It is obvious that Finland and Sweden’s joining NATO, which is a military organisation in the first place, would have serious military and political consequences requiring use to revise the entire range of relations with these countries and take retaliatory measures.”
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