Finland is set to apply for NATO membership imminently, marking a historic moment for the country after decades of military non-alignment. Its neighbour, Sweden, is also considering an application, as Russia’s war in Ukraine changes the fabric of global military alliances. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin made a joint announcement on Thursday, saying the country – which shares an 810-mile border and a difficult past with Russia – must apply for membership to the alliance “without delay”. They said: “We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.
“Now that the moment of decision-making is near, we state our equal views, also for information to the parliamentary groups and parties.
“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance.
“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay.”
As the Finns hope to shore up their security in the face of Russian aggression, one expert has a dire warning for the country.
Speaking to CNN last week, Håkon Lunde Saxi, an associate professor at the Norwegian Defence University College, said that any move toward Finnish NATO membership would “probably result in a Russian military build-up along NATO’s new border with Russia.”
He said this “would in itself not be beneficial for Finnish or European security.”
However, he believes that the benefits would by far outweigh the “possible negative consequences of a somewhat larger Russian military footprint along Finland’s border.”
A key aspect of NATO membership is Article 5, which dictates that if a NATO ally is the victim of an armed attack, each and every country within the alliance will consider this an act of violence against all members.
This means if Finland were to be attacked by Russia, all other NATO members would be obliged to come to the country’s defence.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed that the UK will help defend Finland and Sweden if either country comes under attack.
He made the pledge during a whistle-stop tour of the two nations.
READ MORE: NATO allies: Finland to join alliance ‘without delay’ – full statement
Finnish ambassador to the UK, Jukka Siukosaari, told Express.co.uk in March that some Finns were “frightened” as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.
Asked if there are concerns in the country, he said: “Indeed, we have a very long border with Russia, we have a thousand years of history which has not been without conflict so we do know where we stand.
“At the same time, we know we cannot change geography, and we have built resilience over decades.
“Our emergency preparedness is very highly ranked, but I think it’s natural Finns are concerned, even frightened, on an individual basis.
“As a Government we do not see a direct military threat to Finland, but we do see an attack on Europe’s security order which does have an effect on us of course.”
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After the Kremlin told Finland and Sweden there could be “military consequences” for joining NATO, Mr Siukosaari added that his country had become used to this kind of rhetoric coming out of Moscow.
Despite the fact Ukraine has been bombarded by Russian forces, the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has said NATO membership is off the cards.
He said in March: “It is clear that Ukraine is not a member of NATO; we understand this.
“For years we heard about the apparently open door, but have already also heard that we will not enter there, and these are truths and must be acknowledged.”
His comments came amid fears that Ukraine joining NATO could provoke more aggression from Russia.