Finland Takes First Step Toward NATO With Security Report

Finland Takes First Step Toward NATO With Security Report

Finland’s government unveiled a security-policy report that paves the way for a decision on joining NATO, citing the threat from neighboring Russia after it invaded Ukraine.

Membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has become the preferred option for Finns after their former imperial master started a full-scale war on Feb. 24. The Nordic nation, which in the past staked its security on fostering a trade relationship with Russia, concluded no such ties would now guarantee its safety.

Finland is currently not experiencing an immediate military threat, but is preparing for the possible use of military force against it, according to the white paper published in Helsinki on Wednesday. 

While the document makes no formal proposal to join NATO, it notes doing so would have the benefit of security guarantees in the form of the alliance’s mutual defense clause that states an attack on one is an attack on all.

“Finland is well prepared for various security threats,” Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said at a press conference. 

The radical security rethink by Finland would be key to a potential similar step by neighboring Sweden, which also has long shunned NATO membership even as both nations have clearly tightened cooperation with the bloc over the past years. As with previous rounds of expansion by the defense alliance, Russia has warned of “military” consequences over such plans, and President Vladimir Putin sought guarantees against widening the bloc before the invasion of Ukraine.

“Everything changed when Russia attacked Ukraine,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Sunday. “Russia is a threat to Europe, and Europe is now at war with Russia after it attacked Ukraine. We cannot afford to be naive.”

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