Wary of Russia, Finland moves to join NATO
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said Russian aggression toward Ukraine is making the historically neutral country rethink its security alliances. Finland has maintained a stance of neutrality since Russia invaded and seized part of its territory during World War II. The country’s leaders Thursday came out in favor of joining NATO, which was founded in 1949 largely to protect European allies from the Soviet Union. Sweden, Finland’s neighbor to the west, is also considering applying for NATO membership.
How would this affect Russia? One of the Kremlin’s stated reasons for invading Ukraine was to prevent NATO from expanding along its borders. Now it might have to reckon with an additional 830 miles of NATO-protected borderland with Finland in the north. The Russian foreign ministry threatened to take retaliatory “military-technical” steps if that happens. It could take several months to formalize the alliance if an application is submitted, but Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO would welcome Finland and Sweden with open arms.
Dig deeper: Listen to Jill Nelson’s report on Finland’s change of heart about NATO on The World and Everything in It podcast.
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