Home International Finland’s NATO membership: a threat to Russia, says Kremlin spokesman

Finland’s NATO membership: a threat to Russia, says Kremlin spokesman

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Finnish leaders expressed Thursday their desire to join the Atlantic Alliance. The Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO, ensured a “smooth” accession process. For its part, Russia considers that this membership is “definitely” a threat to Moscow.

The Secretary General of NATO, the Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg, on Thursday welcomed the willingness of Finnish leaders to integrate the Atlantic Alliance and promised them a “smooth” and rapid accession process. “It is a sovereign decision of Finland (…) If Finland decides to apply, it would be warmly welcomed into NATO and the accession process would go smoothly and quickly,” said he assured in a statement.

“Being a member of NATO would strengthen Finland’s security”

Finland’s NATO membership would “definitely” be a threat to Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.

“The enlargement of NATO and the rapprochement of the Alliance to our borders does not make the world and our continent more stable and more secure”, declared Dmitry Peskov to the press, answering “surely” to the question of knowing whether Russia would consider Finland’s entry into NATO as a threat.

The President and Prime Minister of Finland said they were in favor of joining NATO “without delay” on Thursday, specifying that the decision of the Nordic country would be announced to the organization on Sunday.

“Being a member of NATO would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the alliance as a whole. Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” said President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin in a joint statement.

For Dmitry Peskov, Russia’s response will depend on “the practical fallout from this process, from the advance of military infrastructure towards our borders”. “All this will constitute the elements of a specific analysis and for the development of the necessary measures in order to balance the situation”, he added.

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Finland shares a painful past with Russia

The official position of the two leaders marks the shift of the line of Finland, which shares a border of 1,300 kilometers and a painful past with Russia. In the country of 5.5 million people, 76% of the population is now in favor of membership, according to a poll published on Monday, triple its pre-war level.

In Parliament, a very large majority of the 200 deputies is acquired with only a dozen declared opponents. The chamber will meet Monday morning to study the executive’s proposal, probably with a vote, said its president Matti Vanhanen on public television Yle.

Moscow must “look in the mirror”

“Joining NATO would not be against anyone,” the Finnish president assured Wednesday evening, in response to Russian warnings against Helsinki joining the alliance.

For the Finnish president, long an advocate of East-West dialogue, Russia can only blame itself for seeing its neighbor join the alliance. “If we joined (to NATO), my answer (to Russia) would be: ‘it was you who caused this, look in the mirror'”, Mr Niinistö said during a visit to the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

On Tuesday, the Finnish Parliament’s Defense Committee concluded that NATO was “the best option” for Finland’s security after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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Subjected to a form of forced neutrality by Moscow during the Cold War, the former Russian province (1809-1917), invaded by the Soviet Union in 1939, had joined the European Union and the Partnership for Peace of the NATO after the fall of the Soviet Union, but remained a non-member of the alliance.

The formal decision on membership is to be taken by a Council on Security and Foreign Policy, bringing together the head of state, the prime minister and several ministers. “We must hope that Sweden, our close partner, will come to the same conclusion and that we can apply together,” said Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen.

Sweden and Finland seek protection in the event of membership

On the Swedish side, a strategic review prepared by the government and the parties in Parliament will be made public on Friday, before an undoubtedly decisive meeting of the ruling Social Democratic Party on Sunday.

Worried about the reaction of Russia, the two countries have already sought to obtain assurances of protection during the months necessary for their formal entry into the Atlantic Alliance, like an agreement signed on Wednesday with London.

The two countries, members of the European Union, can also count on article 42.7 of mutual assistance of the European treaties, underlined Thursday the Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto before the European Parliament. This period, which notably involves ratification by the parliaments of each of the 30 current members of the Alliance, can take several months.

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