Russia Says Finland Joining NATO Is a Threat

The Kremlin called Finland’s NATO entry a threat to Russia, stressing that expanding the bloc had not made Europe or the world any more stable.

“The expansion of the North Atlantic military bloc (NATO) and its rapprochement with Russia’s borders does not make the world and Europe more stable or more secure,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters at a news conference today.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto today approved the country’s accession to NATO, a landmark decision in national security policy. The Finnish government and parliament are expected to approve an application to join the military alliance shortly.

When asked if Finland’s NATO entry posed a threat, Peskov replied “certainly,” noting that Finland had taken “unfriendly steps” against Russia.

“Everything will depend on how this process goes, how close the military infrastructure gets to our borders,” Peskov said when asked about Russia’s reaction.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a news conference in Moscow, Russia, February 18.  Photo: Reuters.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a news conference in Moscow, Russia, February 18. Picture: Reuters.

Russia warned on April 11 that Russia would be forced to restore military balance by having Finland and Sweden abandon their decades-old policy of renouncing a military alliance and joining NATO by strengthening defenses in the Baltic region, including the deployment of nuclear weapons here.

Finland shares a 1,300 km border with Russia. They became neutral by a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union in 1948, hoping to prevent a repeat of the 1939 Finnish-Soviet war that killed more than 80,000 soldiers.

During the Cold War, the Nordic country retained its non-aligned principle, despite the influence of both blocs led by the Soviet Union and the United States. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Finland gradually shifted its foreign policy focus to the West, marked by the decision to join the EU in 1995.

NATO diplomats say the process of ratifying a membership application could take about a year as it has to be approved by the parliaments of the 30 member countries. Key NATO members such as the US, UK, Germany… have given strong support to Finland and Sweden if the two countries bid to join.

A bid for NATO would not give the two Nordic countries the protection of Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which stipulates that any attack on a member of the bloc is also considered an attack on the alliance as a whole. Alliance and NATO will join the reaction.

During the transition from candidate to full member, Finland and Sweden need a number of security guarantees from NATO, including requests for Alliance countries to help strengthen the Alliance’s capacity to defend against any threat.

On May 11, Britain signed a security agreement with Sweden and Finland, pledging to support their forces if attacked.

Seven Decades of NATO Advance in Europe.  Click on the image to see details.

Seven Decades of NATO Advance in Europe. Click on the image to see details.

Duc Trung (Corresponding Reuters)