Russia’s rattlesnake in Ukraine has rekindled a debate in Finland over whether the Nordic country should join NATO, defying Moscow’s demands to limit the expansion of the military alliance in Europe.
Both President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin used their New Year’s address to underline that Finland has retained the opportunity to seek NATO membership at any time.
“Let it be emphasized once again: the room for maneuver and freedom of choice of Finland includes the possibility of military coordination and application for NATO membership, if we so decide,” Niinisto he said.
Marin added in his separate speech that each country has the right to decide on its security policy, emphasizing: “We have shown that we have learned from the past. We will not leave room for maneuver. “
Russia’s foreign ministry said last week that the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO “would have serious military and political consequences that would require an adequate response from the Russian side.”
Like Russia gathers about 100,000 soldiers on the eastern border of Ukraine, Washington, Moscow and NATO member states are due to meet for talks in early January. US President Joe Biden is also scheduled to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is earlier refused to turn off military action and warned that he has “all sorts of options” if his demands for “security guarantees” to limit NATO’s expansion are not met.
Finland and neighboring Sweden they are both militarily non-aligned, but have growing cooperation with NATO, as well as strong bilateral relations with alliance members such as the United States, Norway and the United Kingdom.
There is no sense that Finland will soon apply for NATO membership, but Russian activity on Ukraine’s borders and its list of demands just before Christmas have sparked internal debate in Helsinki to the level last seen after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Niinisto also warned the West that it risks empowering Russia if it removes the threat of possible military action. Referring to former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to appease Nazi Germany, the Finnish president said: “Whenever avoiding war was the primary goal of a group of forces, the international system was at the mercy of its most ruthless member.
Petteri Orpo, leader of the main opposition National Coalition party, a longtime supporter of NATO membership, also said it was time to discuss whether Finland should apply and believed the accession would improve its security and security of the neighboring region.
“Russia recently suggested that a possible membership of Finland and Sweden in NATO would force military revenge. Such a speech is condemnable and in the end speaks more about the ultimate goals of Russia than about Finland or Sweden. “Finland does not pose a threat to Russia now or in any other way.” he said on Thursday in a post on his party’s website.
Atte Harjanne, an active reservist and head of the Green Party’s parliamentary group, a member of the ruling five-party coalition, he said The arguments for Finland’s accession and for the country’s immediate accession have been “strengthened”.
Leading politicians in all three Baltic states believe that Finnish and Swedish NATO membership is key to improving the security situation on Russia’s western border due to concerns not only about Ukraine but also Belarus and Belarus. use of migrants test Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
The accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO “could make the whole of northern Europe much more stable and secure”, he said Marko Mihkelson, head of the Estonian Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Finland is one of the few European countries that has not significantly reduced its wars strength after the Cold War as its 1,340 km long border with Russia, and memories of the bitter winter war of 1939-40 against the Soviet Union, ensured that security issues remained a high priority.
Finland has also maintained close diplomatic and commercial ties with Russia, and security experts say Niinisto may be a European leader. most respected by his Russian counterpart Putin, with whom he talks regularly.