Finland Officially In NATO
Finland is officially a NATO member state. Turkey finally granted approval for Helsinki’s membership bid a few days ago, and today the process came to a conclusion.
Finland is thus the 31st NATO member state and the first to join the alliance in three years—North Macedonia was the previous one, having joined in 2020.
Sweden, meanwhile, continues to wait for Turkey to approve its membership bid as well. But Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan looks like he will take his time.
For both domestic politics and foreign policy reasons, Erdogan will delay Sweden’s bid as much as possible to seem strong within his electorate—Turkey is set to vote for a president in May—but also to gain concessions from the United States. After getting kicked out from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program for purchasing the S-400 air defense system from Russia, Turkey has become increasingly distant from the U.S. and NATO. Indeed, more than 13 months into the war, Turkey still allows Russia to use its airspace to transport troops.
On his part, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for pushing Finland and Sweden to abandon their neutrality and apply for NATO membership.
“I am tempted to say, maybe this is the one thing that we can thank Mr. Putin for,” the U.S. Secretary of State from Brussels where NATO is meeting.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg touched upon the nuclear threats that are coming from the Kremlin because of Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership bids.
“President Putin’s nuclear rhetoric over the last year, and also before the invasion actually, is dangerous and reckless. And we have made that clear again and again. We also made it clear that nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought. We of course, and NATO remains a nuclear Alliance. And that’s part of our, an essential part of our deterrence and defence,” Stoltenberg said.
Finland Joins NATO: The Russian Reaction
Meanwhile, the Russian reaction to Finland’s NATO membership has been cold.
The Russian Foreign Ministry suggested that relations with the U.S. have been ruined. The Kremlin, in its end, suggested that it would allow the situation to develop before it takes any action.
“We will be watching closely what is going on in Finland, how the NATO alliance will use Finnish territory in terms of deploying weapons, systems and infrastructure there, which will be close to our borders and therefore threaten us,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in his daily briefing to journalists.
However, NATO has made it clear that no troops will be stationed in Finland without the consent of the host country.
At the end of the day, Russia can do very little. The Kremlin has sacrificed more than 200,000 men killed and wounded in Ukraine without achieving anything concrete. In doing so, Moscow has been forced to draw troops from across Russia, thus weakening the forces that are supposedly deterring NATO.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.