Finland Will Apply To Join NATO Despite Russia’s Retaliation Threats

Finland’s authorities said the country would apply to join NATO to strengthen its security amid the Russia-Ukraine war invasion despite Moscow’s threats of retaliation.

During a Sunday joint news conference in Helsinki, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced the move, explaining that the country’s parliament had to confirm the decision before formally applying for NATO membership.

“We have been in close contact with governments of NATO member states and NATO itself. We are close partners to NATO but it is a historic decision that we will join NATO and hopefully, we are making the decisions together,” Marin said. However, joining the organization could take up to a year, as member states’ legislatures must approve any new membership application.

If Finland becomes NATO’s 31st member, the US-led military alliance would be brought to the country’s border with Russia, risking to raise tensions between the two nations and draw Moscow’s ire.

On Saturday, Russia advised Finland against joining the Western alliance, saying abandoning its decades-long state of neutrality would be a “mistake.”

While Putin did not make a specific threat against Finland, a country that shares a 1,300 km border with Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier that there would be retaliation against the neighboring country if it joins NATO.

The Russian statement said Finland’s accession to NATO would severely damage Russian-Finnish bilateral relations and threaten the stability and security of Northern Europe.

“Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to neutralize the threats to its national security that arise from this,” it added.

According to the Russian news agency Ria, Russia’s deputy representative to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, said Finland and Sweden would become possible targets for Moscow if they formalize their accession to NATO.

Also, Russia suspended the electricity supply to Finland on Saturday. Russian energy provider RAO Nordic cited payment issues in response to the power outage, but experts believe the move is an early sign of retaliation against the country.

Finland has remained a nominally neutral country with no military alignment since the end of World War II to avoid conflict with neighboring Russia.

However, Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has “altered the security environment of Finland,” said a statement from Finnish President Niinistö.

Primer Marin also addressed reports about a nuclear threat, stating: “We wouldn’t make these decisions that we are making now, if we didn’t think that they are enhancing our strength or security.”