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What Does Russia Think of Finland Joining NATO? Putin “Took It So Calmly”

Finland F-35
F-35A JSF. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin.

Maybe Putin won’t act aggressively over Helsinki’s move to join NATO? Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said on Sunday that he had a primarily amicable chat with Russian President Vladimir Putin after Finland made clear that it would abandon decades of neutrality by moving forward with an application to join NATO.

“Actually, the surprise was that he took it so calmly,” Niinistö told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” of his conversation with Putin on Saturday.

Niinistö stressed that he wasn’t naive about Putin’s personal reaction, pledging to “follow up” and stay aware of how Russia would respond to the possibility of having another border nation in NATO. If Finland were accepted, it would roughly double the size of Russia’s land border with NATO.

Last week, Russia warned Finland. The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that Moscow would be “forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature.”

By Saturday, Russian energy supplier RAO Nordic Oy, had cut off energy supplies to Finland as the country announced its plans to apply for NATO membership in the next few days.

Niinistö said that Putin’s decision to launch a large-scale war against Ukraine changed his country’s calculus on NATO neutrality, a policy that the nation had followed since the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after WWII and throughout the Cold War.

“It showed that they are ready to attack an independent, neighboring country,” Niinistö said.

Finland also took note that Putin moved so aggressively against NATO’s possible expansion, Niinistö added. His nation could not simply accept a reality where Moscow had the power to direct Finland’s own foreign policy.

“So far we had thought, OK, we are non-aligned of our will, but when they said that that meant that we didn’t have any will left,” Niinistö said.

Finland has yet to formally apply for membership, a move that is expected in the coming days. NATO does not have specific membership requirements, but rather the alliance has general political, economic, and military standards. NATO’s current members have to unanimously support any aspiring nation’s bid.

Brent Griffiths is a senior politics reporter at Insider. 

Written By

Brent Griffiths is a senior politics reporter at Insider.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Alex

    May 15, 2022 at 9:37 pm

    The Finns will probably feel better when nuclear missiles are aimed at their heads. This is their choice and should be respected. Why are missiles aimed at us Poles, but not at them? We will gladly accept their accession.

  2. Raymond Core

    May 16, 2022 at 12:10 am

    When, during WW2, Finland was on the side of Nazi Germany fighting Russians and lost, they signed a treaty to stop the fighting and further encroachment on their territory to become a neutra country forever. So much for Finland’s adherence to treaties and neutrality.

  3. punithan vyahoori

    May 16, 2022 at 6:42 am

    Nato have the capability to bring the world to gather and peaceful place to live in.

  4. speedster

    May 16, 2022 at 8:29 am

    Why would Russia have nuclear missiles pointed at finland?Joining nato merely provides, Finland with a nuclear umbrella from nato.
    There is no reason to expect that Finland would have nuclear weapons installed.

    The history of Finland in world war 2 is not the full facts. Before that Finland as attacked by the imperialistic Stalin and the Finland had great success against Russian invaders. Then Stalin used human wave tactics which overwhelmed the fins.
    After this Hitler who observed the weak, Russian invasion attempt, decided to invade Russia.
    Also the imperialistic Pluto stole territory from Finland.

    The ukraine signed a treaty with Russia when they have up their nuclear weapons. Problem is Russia broke that non aggression treaty by invading ukrsine . So one can see why Finland does not trust any treaty with Russia after imperialism on ukraine and not abiding by the ukraine non aggression treaty.

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