Finland’s President and Prime Minister on Thursday voiced the country’s urgent decision to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), noting that a formal decision would happen this weekend.
The move to join the military alliance comes amid Russia’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which has sparked a turn in public opinion, which previously opposed Finland’s membership in NATO. A poll conducted by Finnish public broadcaster Yle showed that 76% of Finns support joining the military alliance, a stark rise from a figure that stood at 20-30% in recent years.
President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin released a joint statement on Thursday stating Finland’s intent to join the alliance. Despite the urgency of Finland’s application, it could take months for NATO to formally admit the country into its ranks.
“You caused this. Look in the mirror,” said Niinisto when asked what he would say to Putin.
“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security,” read the joint statement in part. “As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance. Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay.”
“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,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a press conference in Helsinki with Niinisto.
Russia responded within hours declaring that “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,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “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.”
The Daily Mail reported that should Finland be admitted to NATO, the border between NATO member states and Russia would double from 754 miles to 1,584 miles.
“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 publication added.
“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,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto declared.