Turkey’s parliament approved a bill Thursday to permit Finland’s admission to NATO. With Hungary similarly backing
the Nordic country’s admission to the military alliance this week, all 30 members are now onside and ready to double NATO’s border with the Russian Federation.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday, “All 30 Nato allies have now ratified the accession protocol. … Finland will formally join our alliance in the coming days.”
u201cu275dFinland will formally join our Alliance in the coming days.u00a0Their membership will make Finland safer and NATO stronger. I look forward to also welcoming Sweden as a full member of the NATO family as soon as possible.u275ennu2014 Secretary General @jensstoltenbergu201d
— NATO (@NATO)
Finland’s defense minister Antti Kaikkonen tweeted, “Finland will be a steadfast security provider as part of the alliance. We look forward to Sweden’s membership as soon as possible.”
‘A huge plus’
Russia presently shares approximately 754 miles of border with NATO members Norway, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, and Lithuania. In light of Finland’s 830 miles of shared border with Russia, there will soon stretch nearly 1,600 miles of geographic contact between NATO-protected regions and Russia.
Extra to hemming in Russia to a greater extent in northern Europe, this move signals an end to decades of Finnish neutrality, reported
Reuters reported that after “deposition of the ratification” by all members, Finland will have to deposit its “instrument of accession” at the U.S. Department of State to become an official inductee and party to the proxy war with Russia.
The Times indicated that Finland’s inclusion in NATO will bolster the alliance with a better geostrategic position, the support of additional military forces, and access to Finnish airspace, ports and sea lanes.
Finland has 23,000 troops, although in wartime, its fighting strength could reportedly grow to 280,000 soldiers.
According to the Wilson Center, Finland has “1,500 artillery weapons, including 700 Howitzer guns, 700 heavy mortar, and 100 rocket launcher systems, the Finnish artillery has more artillery firepower than the combined militaries of Poland, Germany, Norway, and Sweden can currently muster.”
The Wilson Center also claimed that Finland would provide the alliance with additional technological and civilian defense infrastructure.
Retired four-star American admiral and former NATO military commander James Stavridis called the prospective Finnish addition “a huge plus for NATO.”
“Geographically, their addition to the alliance adds a huge, difficult-to-defend border that complicates Putin’s calculus,” said Stavridis.
Application, American assent, Turkish approval
The president and government of Finland announced in May 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that it intended to apply for NATO membership. It formally handed in its application on May 18, 2022.
President Sauli Niinistö said
at the time of the announcement of intent, “This is a historic day. A new era begins.”
Turkey held up Finland’s admission with a veto, but Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ultimately gave the Nordic nation his blessing after Helsinki agreed to crack down on groups Ankara regarded as terrorists as well as increase in defense exports.
The Turkish parliament voted unanimously in support of Finland’s NATO membership application.
Turkey’s approval this week comes nearly nine months after the U.S. Senate approved a treaty to include Finland and Sweden in NATO.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was the lone holdout, claiming in an opinion piece
that “NATO expansion would almost certainly mean more U.S. forces in Europe for the long haul,” reported
the New York Times.
Hawley indicated that notwithstanding the Russian threat, China posed the greater immediate danger to the U.S.. Accordingly, he recommended, “We must do less in Europe (and elsewhere) in order to prioritize China and Asia.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said, “Some critics say America shouldn’t pledge to protect countries halfway around the world. … But these critics are seven decades too late. We’re already treaty-bound to defend more than two dozen nations in Europe.”
Threatened Russians and Russian threats
In February 2022, Russian president Vladimir Putin condemned further NATO expansion.
“We haven’t seen adequate consideration of our three key requirements concerning the prevention of NATO expansion, the refusal to deploy strike weapons systems near the Russian borders as well as the return of the military infrastructure [to NATO’s 1997 borders]” said
In May 2022, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement,
saying, “Finland joining NATO is a radical change in the country’s foreign policy. … Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop threats to its national security arising.”
While denouncing NATO expansion, Moscow has also suggested it does not pose a threat to the Nordic nations.
On March 16, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “We have many times expressed regret over Finland and Sweden’s move toward membership and said many times that Russia does not pose a threat to these countries.”
“We do not have any dispute with these countries … They have never posed any threat to us and, logically, we did not threaten them,” reiterated Peskov.
The Russian Embassy in Sweden resumed threatening Finland and Sweden this week over their possible inclusion in NATO, writing, “If anyone still believes that this will somehow improve Europe’s security, you can be sure that the new members of the hostile bloc will become a legitimate target for Russia’s retaliatory measures, including military ones.”
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