In recent years, Finland has grown closer to NATO as an Enhanced Opportunity Partner while retaining its independence. That independence keeps Finland outside of NATO’s Article 5 clause, which guarantees the protection of all 30 allies.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reversed national policies across the continent. A Russian lawmaker has warned Finland that joining NATO will make it a viable ‘target’ and ensure the ‘destruction of their country.’
He said: ‘If the leadership of Finland goes for it, it will be a strategic mistake.
‘Finland, which has been successfully developing all these years thanks to close trade and economic ties with Russia, would become a target.
‘I think it [would be] a terrible tragedy for the entire Finnish people.’
‘The Finns themselves will not sign a card for the destruction of their country,’ the senator stated.
His comments came as NATO member countries promised to assist Finland in maintaining security throughout the application process, according to Haavisto.
The approval of the proposal is expected to take four to one year, according to member nations.
He added that since neighboring Russia attacked Ukraine in February, support for Finland joining NATO has grown.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Sanna Marin stated: ‘Both joining (NATO) and not joining are choices that have consequences.
‘We need to assess both the short-term and long-term effects. At the same time, we must keep in mind our goal: ensuring the security of Finland and Finns in all situations.’
Marin further added that Finland’s relationship with neighboring Russia has changed irreversibly after the assault on Ukraine, and ‘it takes a lot of time and work for confidence to be restored’.
Finland and Russia share an 830-mile (1,340-kilometer) border, the longest in the European Union. For fear of offending Moscow, it has remained militarily non-aligned, meaning it has avoided war and conflict since the end of the Cold War.
Haavisto previously said Russia’s actions in Ukraine have ‘totally changed the security landscape in Finland’.
He told Kyodo News that Finland must be prepared for ‘more negative military scenarios’.
This is despite Moscow’s threats of reprisal if the nation joins NATO.
Last month, a Russian lawmaker warned that Finland and Sweden joining the alliance would have “severe military and political consequences.”
Russian Foreign Ministry Second European Department Director Sergei Belyayev told Interfax: ‘It is obvious that Finland and Sweden’s joining NATO, which is a military organization in the first place, would have serious military and political consequences requiring use to revise the entire range of relations with these countries and take retaliatory measures.’
Throughout the Cold War, from 1947 through 1989, and in the decades following, nothing has been able to persuade Finland or Sweden to join NATO.
However, according to a survey conducted in March, Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine appeared to boost popular support in Finland for NATO membership to record levels.
In Finland, 62 percent of respondents said their government should apply for NATO membership.
One of the numerous justifications for Vladimir Putin’s brutal war has been NATO’s eastward expansion, and he has insisted that Ukraine embrace neutrality as a condition for withdrawal.
Meanwhile, NATO nations have repeatedly turned down demands from Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to directly assist his country in fighting Moscow’s invading forces, fearing being drawn into a larger battle with Russia.