Finland Announces Plan to Join NATO, as Boris Pledges UK Soldiers to Defend Finland and Sweden From Russia

HELSINKI, FINLAND - MAY 11: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Finland's President Sauli Niinisto arrive to meet the media, at the Presidential Palace on May 11, 2022 in Helsinki, Finland. Britain has signed a security assurance with Sweden and its neighbor Finland, both pondering whether to join NATO …
Frank Augstein - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The traditionally militarily neutral Scandinavian country of Finland has announced its intention to join the NATO military alliance in response to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, with neighbouring Sweden — also normally neutral — widely expected to follow suit.

The expansionism of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union was cited by Moscow as one of the central motivating factors in the February invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military, however, it appears that the so-called “special military operation” has resulted in more expansionism by the West.

After months of speculation, Finish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and President Sauli Niinistö announced on Thursday morning that they would be seeking NATO membership “without delay”.

“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. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days,” the leaders said in a joint statement.

Finland, which shares over 800 miles of a land border with Russia, has been militarily neutral since the Finno-Soviet Treaty of 1948 following the Continuation and Winter wars between the two countries. The pact saw Finland remain neutral during the duration of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Following the dissolution of the communist state, Finland along with Sweden joined the European Union, as they attempted to move towards the Western sphere of influence, however, both Scandinavian countries have heretofore refrained from entering into a military alliance with the NATO countries.

The Finnish parliament still needs to approve the measure, after which the acceptance of Finland into NATO would be put to vote in the national parliaments of all 30 member states. Neighbouring Sweden is expected to make a similar announcement by next week.

The announcement from Finland comes just one day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed defence agreements with both Sweden and Finland, pledging that British soldiers would come to the aid of either country should they be attacked by Russia.

“We have been forced to discuss how best to fortify our shared defences against the empty conceit of a 21st-century tyrant,” Johnson said on Wednesday.

While Mr Johnson refused to confirm if Britain would consider using its nuclear arsenal to defend the country, he said: “What we are saying emphatically is that, in the event of an attack upon Sweden, the UK would come to the assistance of Sweden with whatever Sweden requested.”

The Prime Minister of Sweden, Magdalena Andersson said: “President Putin thought he could cause division, but he has achieved the opposite.”

So far, Western involvement in the war in Ukraine has been to provide military aid in the form of what has been called “defensive” weaponry and military vehicles. However, should the UK enter the fray to protect the non-NATO members and engage with Russia militarily, it could trigger the alliance’s Article 5, which states that an attack on one member is an attack on all.

NATO Director General Jens Stoltenberg stated earlier this month that if Sweden applies for membership, the alliance would provide security assurances during the interim period in which member states consider the application.

The Kremlin has previously warned that should Sweden and Finland decide to join NATO there would be “military and political repercussions”.

The expansion of NATO has been a key complaint from Moscow, which has claimed that the encroachment by the West towards Russia’s borders necessitated the military response in the form of the invasion of Ukraine, which has also been seeking membership into the alliance.

Over the past two decades, NATO has seen its membership nearly double, despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was the original justification for the alliance.

In 1999, the Czech Republic and Poland joined NATO and in 2004, seven members of the Vilnius group of Eastern European nations, (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia joined the alliance. The remaining three members of the group, Albania, Croatia, and North Macedonia joined in 2009 and 2020 respectively, while Montenegro joined in 2017.

On top of the expansion of NATO, the leftist government in Germany has called this month for the future ascension of the Western Balkans states, such as Kosovo and Serbia, into the European Union, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declaring that the region “belongs” to Europe.

Though on paper, the NATO alliance is supposedly meant to serve only defensive purposes, key members of NATO, including the United States and the United Kingdom have been supplying Ukraine — a non-NATO member — with weapons and other forms of military assistance during and prior to the Russian invasion in February.  The United States has even admitted to training Ukrainian soldiers in Germany and other undisclosed countries in how to operate next-generation weapons being supplied to the country.

Rather than attempting to pursue a ceasefire or a peace agreement, the United States under the Biden administration has only doubled down on funding, what has been described by even a Democrat congressman as a “proxy war” with Russia. On Tuesday, the U.S. Congress approved another $40 billion in military and other forms of aid to Ukraine. For context, the entire defence budget for Russia only stood at $65.9 billion last year.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.