Finland discusses NATO membership, perhaps the expansion of the alliance that Putin hates

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BRUSSELS – Finland will promptly initiate a discussion on NATO membership, Finnish officials said Wednesday, as the country reconsiders its long-standing position outside the Western military alliance following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

At a press conference in Stockholm, the minister said: “There are different perspectives on whether to apply for NATO membership and we need to analyze it very carefully.” Reuters. “But I think our process will be pretty quick.”

Marin said the invasion of Ukraine by Sweden’s Russian President Vladimir Putin destroyed Europe during World War II.

Ministers spoke as a Finnish government. The official assessment released Wednesday launched a trial on how a Russian invasion changed the security environment, possibly resulting in an attempt to join NATO.

Officials say the assessment, known as the White Paper, does not recommend NATO membership, but will be used as a starting point for parliamentary discussion as it impacts a historic change in the country’s defense stance.

Finland and neighboring Sweden are not officially in a military alliance, but Russian aggression has brought about a dramatic change in public opinion. Wednesday’s white paper marks the beginning of a trial for Finland, where support for NATO membership has risen to 68%, according to a poll conducted over the weekend.

Their potential membership would change the security of Europe and perhaps infuriate the Kremlin. Putin used NATO enlargement as an excuse to invade Ukraine. Now his brutal warfare could bring a military alliance to his doorstep.

The Biden administration has released relatively few public statements about the potential accession of Finland and Sweden, perhaps in hopes of avoiding further backlash from Russia, but it emphasized NATO’s open door policy. The issue of alliance enlargement was discussed at the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels last week.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the war in Ukraine raises concerns that Putin may have targets beyond Ukraine.

“The reason we see more interest in the defense alliance is precisely because we are seeing offensive operations and assaults on behalf of the Russian Federation,” he told reporters on Tuesday. So, if there is any reason to increase interest in the NATO alliance, I think, in all fairness, it is based on Vladimir Putin.

Speaking to reporters in Helsinki after the newspaper was published, Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikonen said he hoped the decision would be made before the summer solstice in late June. He said Finland’s strong military capabilities will contribute to NATO security.

Finnish Foreign Minister Peka Havisto said he hopes Finland and Sweden can take any potential steps towards membership within the same time frame, but Stockholm will make its own decision.

The Social Democrats in power in Sweden, who have traditionally opposed NATO membership, have also said they will reconsider their position in the coming months, although the exact timing is not clear.

Sweden and Finland already have deep ties to the Alliance. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that both are working on military compatibility with NATO, are trained with Alliance forces and meet NATO standards when it comes to “political, democratic and civilian control over institutions. security and armed forces “.

“There is no other country closer to NATO,” Stoltenberg, the former Norwegian prime minister, told reporters.

The accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO could put Trump in the hot seat

“They are our closest allies in Europe and therefore I cannot imagine a situation where the idea would be vehemently opposed,” Juliana Smith, the US ambassador to NATO, said last week. she said.

As Helsinki and Stockholm debate whether to sign this official, the key questions are and how to protect yourself from potential Russian aggression, which can take months between expressing their interest and actually joining.

Russia has warned of “grave politico-military consequences” and “revenge” if the two countries unite. Finnish leaders are mainly preparing for possible serious and mostly symbolic reactions from Russia, said Henry Vanhanen, a reduced foreign policy expert and advisor to the Finnish National Coalition Party.

Meanwhile, Vanhanen expects NATO to find ways to “signal that Sweden and Finland are safe”, for example by making a political commitment to secure membership or by strengthening military cooperation in some way.

“If they give us a signal that we welcome them, it is in their best interest to do so as smoothly as possible,” he said. “If the open door policy is shaken, it will be a major blow to NATO,” she said.

Stoltenberg said last week that he was “confident that the Alliance will find ways to address concerns over the period between a possible proposal and ratification,” but declined to elaborate on what would be considered.

“I don’t think it would benefit me to start speculating publicly about how we’re going to do it,” he said. “But if they apply, I’m sure we’ll find a way to sit back and fix this,” he said.

Putin’s war with Finland and Sweden approaches NATO membership

US officials have reduced the likelihood of any Russian attacks on Finland and Sweden during the potential duration of their use, or NATO-type security guarantees, if they apply, but suggest that Washington has been looking for other ways to strengthen the countries’ security. before them. Connect.

Even without NATO protection, Finland and Sweden should theoretically have certain collective security measures. 42.7 of the EU Treaty. The article specifies that if a member is the victim of an armed attack, he must be assisted by other members.

Fin Marin and Sweden Anderson wrote a letter Last month, European Council President Charles Michel focused on the “role of EU solidarity and adherence to the double defense clause” in Europe’s new security environment.

The country can “trust” the EU if Russia breaks it, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a meeting with the Swedish leader last month.

Reported by Ryan from Washington.

Source: Washington Post