Finland joins NATO, dealing a major blow to Russia amid Ukraine war
Finland and Sweden requested to join the alliance in May of last year shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine in February of last year
April 5, 2023 8:55am
Updated: April 5, 2023 8:55am
Finland officially became NATO’s 31 member country on Tuesday, in a major blow to Russia as the region strengthens its military alliance amid its invasion of Ukraine.
In a symbolic moment displaying shifting global dynamics, NATO officially raised Finland’s flag between the French and Estonian flags in a ceremony outside NATO headquarters on Tuesday.
“The era of nonalignment in our history has come to an end -– a new era begins,” President Sauli Niinisto, referring to Finland’s neutral stance adopted after the Soviets were defeated in World War II.
Finland and Sweden requested to join the alliance in May of last year shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine in February of last year. Finland shares an 833-mile (1,340-kilometer) border with Russia.
The decision to join the alliance requires a unanimous decision by all member countries. However, Turkey was the only country in the alliance that formally opposed Finland’s joining NATO, alleging that the Nordic country’s policies supported Kurdish rebel groups that the government opposes.
After months of negotiations with Turkish President Recep Erdogan, Finland’s request to join the alliance was approved by Turkey. Sweden’s process to join is still ongoing.
Niinsto said that Finland’s membership “is not complete without that of Sweden. The persistent efforts for a rapid Swedish membership continue.”
By joining NATO, Finland will be protected under the collective security guarantee of Article 5, which states that "an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all."
The move is a political setback for Putin, who has partly used NATO expansion to justify the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Moscow threatened to deploy troops to the border with Finland if NATO expanded its presence in the region.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Moscow “will be forced to take military-technical and other retaliatory measures to counter the threats to our national security arising from Finland’s accession to NATO.”
Finland’s move is “a fundamental change in the situation in Northern Europe, which had previously been one of the most stable regions in the world,” the ministry added.