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Finland must apply to join NATO ‘without delay’, say president and prime minister

12th May 2022 - 10:00 GMT | by Ben Vogel in London


Finnish soldiers on parade. (Photo: Finnish MoD)

Political, diplomatic and military discussions — undertaken since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began — will result in Finland becoming a member of NATO with broad popular support.

The Finnish president and prime minister jointly announced on 12 May that the Scandinavian country ‘must apply for NATO membership without delay’.

The statement from Sauli Niinistö and Sanna Marin confirms for the first time that the extensive political, diplomatic and military discussions undertaken in Finland over recent months will result in the country becoming a member of NATO with broad popular support — a historic shift that was deemed unthinkable until the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in late February.

‘As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,’ Niinistö and Marin stated. ‘Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.’

Similar moves are underway in Sweden, which has also been spurred into action by the war in Ukraine. Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported on 10 May that Finland and Sweden will be able to submit their applications for NATO membership next week; and an opinion poll taken on 11 May put Swedish public support for joining the alliance at 64%.

Pending membership of NATO for both countries comes after decades of neutrality and despite threats from Moscow of unspecified retaliatory action.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has traditionally pursued a policy of preventing non-aligned European countries from joining NATO; indeed, one of his false justifications for invading Ukraine was the unfounded allegation that Kyiv was hellbent on becoming a full member of the alliance.

Therefore, by provoking Finland and Sweden into joining NATO, Putin has scored a major strategic own goal.

Major defence modernisation programmes in Finland that would also enhance interoperability with NATO include the procurementof 64 F-35A CTOL Block 4 multirole fighter aircraft; involvement in the Common Armoured Vehicle System programme alongside Estonia, Latvia and Sweden; and the construction of four Pohjanmaa-class corvettes in the Squadron 2020 programme for the Finnish Navy.

In terms of military capability, Finnish interactions with NATO are already strong under the Partnership Interoperability Initiative and Partnership for Peace. The country participates in the NATO Response Force and it also enjoys close ties with NATO members Denmark and Norway as a member of the Nordic Defence Cooperation regional collaborative defence initiative.

Already, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO notes on its website that there have been regular consultations and exchanges of information with Finland on hybrid warfare, moves to coordinate training and exercise, and steps to develop ‘better joint situational awareness’.

Ben Vogel


Ben Vogel

Ben Vogel is News Editor for Shephard Media. He has almost 20 years' experience in …

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