The Finns want to join NATO because of Russian aggression

Finland’s eastern border is over 1,300 kilometers long. It separates the country from Russia. Peace has reigned here since the end of World War II.

But since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Finns have feared their previous security is not guaranteed.

For decades, Finland has been working on geostrategic balance. The country was not a member of military alliances, maintained fair relations with Russia and at the same time took good care of its troops.

For these reasons, the Finns have so far felt that they do not need guarantees of protection from NATO in the event of foreign aggression. The majority invariably rejected proposals to join the Alliance. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed everything.

A poll in February found that 54% of those polled would support the country’s NATO membership. In March, this indicator increased even more – to 62%. And only five years ago – in 2017 – supporters of joining NATO were only 19%. Defense Minister Anti Kaikonen said the reasons for this huge increase in NATO approval were clear.

“People thought that in the 1920s we would live in peacetime. But now there is a milking parlor in the center of Europe, not far from Finland,” the minister told the State Security. He added that in April the government will present to parliament its new assessment of the changed security situation in the country and will submit the issue of NATO for discussion. Many suggest that, following relevant public and parliamentary debates, Finland may apply to join the Alliance. Read more: “Russia has threatened to destroy Finland: another independent state“,

1939: when the USSR invades Finland

For many Finns, rethinking safety risks affects not only the future but also the past. As is well known, the USSR invaded Finland in 1939. In the course of the so-called Winter War, Moscow justifies itself (as it does now concerning the aggression in Ukraine) by the fact that Finland had provoked the need for military action. The Finns found themselves facing the USSR all by themselves but managed to preserve their independence at the cost of enormous sacrifices, loss of territory, and prosperity.

They are ready to do the same today, if necessary. The principle of national security guarantees for Finland obliges the entire adult population of the country to undergo appropriate military training to be able to cope only in any emergency – whether from natural disasters, industrial accidents, or actions of neighboring countries that violate the Finnish borders.

In Vantaa, on the outskirts of Helsinki, army reservists maintained their rifle training and conducted various military exercises. More people have taken their courses in the last month than ever before. The number of self-defense classes, as well as training courses for reservists, has also increased significantly.

Anti Ketunen, chairman of the Vantaa Reservists’ Club, says the first two weeks of the war in Ukraine have grown by 20 percent in defense club members to 250. “We’ve never seen anything like it before,” Ketunen said.

But the pursuit of additional protection, which would be provided by NATO under Article 5 of the Treaty on Mutual Assistance, also involves risks. Moscow has repeatedly and unequivocally threatened Helsinki with “serious political and military consequences” if the country applies for NATO membership.

Finland in NATO: now or never

Defense Minister Kaikonen says Helsinki believes in such threats: “There will be some reaction from Russia. But what exactly it will be is hard to predict.” Councilor Henri Vanhanen said: “The situation is: now or never. If we do not join the Alliance, we will have to explain the reason. And what will be the basis of our security now and in the future. Will it be?” it is enough to cooperate with the EU in the field of defense? We do not know “.

Vanhanen suggests that Finland’s accession will be a positive step for NATO: “We are not just security users. Thanks to our well-trained armed forces and their full compatibility with NATO, and due to the country’s key regional location, we will also be safety donors, “said Vanhanen.

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