Finland announces support for NATO membership; Russia warns of consequences
Leaders of Finland on Thursday supported the move to apply for joining the United States-led military alliance North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine that sent a shiver of fear through Moscow's neighbors, Finland's President and Prime Minister announced the country should apply right away for membership in NATO. Meanwhile, Sweden, too, is considering the same in the coming days.
Why does this story matter?
The move by Finland and Sweden is part of the historic geopolitical realignment that the continent has witnessed since the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Public opinion in both nations shifted dramatically in favor of NATO membership after Russia's Ukraine invasion as fear has gripped these countries that they could be the next target. It represents a major change in Europe's security landscape.
The process to join NATO could take months
Even though its Parliament is yet to consider the move, the announcement makes it clear that Finland is all certain to apply and gain admission to NATO. However, the process would take months to complete. Notably, Finland adopted neutrality after its defeat by the Soviets in World War II. Sweden, too, has never been part of a military alliance in the last 200 years.
NATO welcomes the move; Russia issues warning
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has stated the military alliance would welcome Finland and Sweden with open arms. The expansion of the alliance would put Moscow on the backfoot as this would leave Russia surrounded by NATO countries in the Baltic Sea and the Arctic. In view of this, the Kremlin warned that it will be forced to take retaliatory "military-technical" steps.
Russia terms it threat to 'national security'
With Finland and Sweden fin favor of joining NATO, Russia's Foreign Ministry warned that Moscow "will be forced to take retaliatory steps of military-technical and other characteristics in order to counter the emerging threats to its national security."
Russia warns of 'nuclear war'
Meanwhile, Moscow also fired a fresh salvo at NATO on Thursday, saying the alliance's military support to Ukraine could lead to direct conflict between NATO and Russia. "There is always a risk of such conflict turning into a full-scale nuclear war, a scenario that will be catastrophic for all," said Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia's Security Council.