1340 kilometers – the length of Finland’s border with Russia’s currently aggressive eastern neighbor is so long. Finland’s accession to NATO would make it the first such large-scale line of direct contact between the countries officially under NATO’s fifth paragraph shield and Russia.
Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine has clearly stabilized Finnish public opinion in favor of the alliance. “Russia is a country that respects only power. Nothing else. And force needs counterforce. And now we will have it with NATO, “said Rita Mustonen, a border resident.
At the same time, Finnish military experts are in a hurry to point out that the Alliance will also benefit significantly. Finland will soon complete the modernization of its air force with the latest F35 fighter jets.
Finland has one of the largest artillery in Europe,
maintaining a total of about 1,500 artillery systems.
Finland also has a well-developed compulsory service and reserve structure with enviable military and moral readiness in many countries. A poll conducted at the end of last year found that 90% of Finnish men and 84% of women expressed their readiness to defend their country, whose collective memory includes the ability to defend independence during the Winter War from the USSR invasion:
“I am not worried. Relations with Putin are very bad, but not so bad that they are about to attack. Do not think. I’m not afraid, but it’s sad, “said 91-year-old Seppo Koivupuro, who survived the Winter War.
Sweden has been closely integrated with Finland for years, and its international mission-oriented forces have already experienced their first alarm during the 2014 annexation of Crimea. The need to improve preparedness for conventional warfare or conflict was then widely debated in society.
In addition, both countries have used the term ‘non-alignment’ instead of Switzerland’s famous neutrality during this period, highlighting NATO’s close partners, both as a whole and with well-developed bilateral relations with the largest and smallest members of the Alliance.
Sweden’s most visible symbol of its response to the changing security situation has been its military return to Gotland, which has the potential to increase security in the Baltic States as well:
“It is believed that if Russia wanted to start something in the Baltics, they would want to control Gotland, because that would stop NATO forces from consolidating aid to the Baltics. This is the main reason why Gotland is so strategic. One U.S. officer who was here described it as an aircraft carrier, ”explained Malena Brica, a researcher at the Swedish University of Defense.
Both countries clearly meet the criteria for NATO membership, making joining the Alliance potentially the fastest in history.
Russia has threatened the move with “serious consequences”, but politicians in both countries are quick to point out that the war in Ukraine launched by President Vladimir Putin has prompted the Alliance to seek membership. In addition, NATO’s major nations have already provided security assurances to Finland and Sweden against any threat during the accession process.
Finland and Sweden have long abstained from joining the alliance. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine radically changed the security situation in Europe, and support for NATO membership rose sharply among politicians and the public in both countries.
This week, May 18, both Finland and Sweden have submitted applications NATO membership.
The forthcoming enlargement of the Alliance has been welcomed by both the NATO leadership and many NATO members, but there are concerns about Turkey’s statement that it does not support their accession to NATO. Alliance leadership and member states hopes to resolve the situationwithout delaying the forthcoming enlargement.
Meanwhile, Russia, which demanded a halt to NATO enlargement before the war in Ukraine, changed its rhetoric after the initial outrage over Finland’s and Sweden’s forthcoming NATO membership, saying that Russia’s accession to NATO was not so much a concern. At the same time, there is a risk that Russia could stop supplying natural gas to Finlandwhich Russia already has cut off the electricity supply.
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