On Tuesday, Finland completed its historic strategic shift by depositing its accession documents to the alliance and officially becoming the 31st member of NATO.
On Tuesday, Finland completed its historic policy shift by formally joining NATO. The military bloc’s Brussels headquarters saw the flag of Finland being raised, as the country’s decision to join was primarily driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Moscow has already issued a warning of “counter-measures” in response to Finland’s accession.
The accession of Finland to NATO doubles the length of the border that the military alliance shares with Russia and strengthens its eastern flank amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, which shows no sign of ending.
With a military band playing in bright sunshine, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto handed over an official document to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at NATO’s HQ, completing the accession process. As a result, Finland’s flag – a blue cross on a white background – was hoisted alongside those of the alliance’s 30 other members.
“At the ceremony, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated, “For nearly 75 years, this exceptional alliance has protected our nations and still does so today. However, war has returned to Europe, and Finland has opted to join NATO and become part of the world’s most effective alliance.”
Earlier, Stoltenberg mentioned that Russian President Vladimir Putin had cited opposition to NATO’s eastward enlargement as one of the reasons for invading Ukraine. Stoltenberg stated that Putin’s goal of preventing NATO’s expansion to the East is not being achieved. He added that with Finland’s accession and soon, Sweden’s, both countries would become full-fledged members of the alliance, contrary to Putin’s goals. Stoltenberg made these comments in Brussels.
President Saul Niinisto of Finland stated that the country’s primary contribution to NATO’s defense and deterrence efforts would be the protection of its own territory. He acknowledged the need for further coordination with NATO to accomplish this objective.
Finnish President Saul Niinisto stated at a joint news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that the day of Finland’s accession to NATO was significant for both Finland and NATO. In response, the Kremlin warned that Russia would take “counter-measures” to Finland’s membership. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu expressed concern that this move could lead to a further escalation of the conflict in Ukraine.
In response to Finland’s joining NATO, Russia announced on Monday that it would enhance its military capability in its western and northwestern areas. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government welcomed Finland’s move. Andriy Yermak, the Chief of Staff of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, expressed his support on Telegram, stating that “Finland made the right choice. NATO is also a crucial goal for Ukraine.”