Finland reveals timeline of possible NATO accession — Analysis
The country has launched consultations on joining the alliance in response to Russia’s offensive in Ukraine
The Finnish government will provide the country’s parliament with a review of possible NATO accession by the middle of this month, the country’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said.
Moscow’s attack on Ukraine has prompted Finland, which has a common border with Russia, to intensify the discussions on potential benefits of joining the military alliance. Haavisto revealed that Finland’s leaders have already discussed the matter with “Nearly everything” NATO members, and he “almost daily” talks about it with neighboring Sweden which is also considering joining the bloc.
Haavisto stated in a Monday interview published by Reuters that Finland must be ready for retaliation against Russia. “also listen to how NATO countries would react.”
“We don’t need to make any quick decisions on our own defense, but certainly a possible membership application could lead to making us a target of interference or hybrid actions,” the foreign minister explained.
On Saturday, the country’s prime minister Sanna Marin, speaking during a Social Democratic Party delegates’ gathering, said that Russia’s offensive in Ukraine had undermined trust between Helsinki and Moscow in an “Unreversible” way.
“Russia isn’t the neighbour we believed it to be,” she said.
Admitting that both joining and not joining NATO are “Make choices with consequences,”
the prime minister said that a decision should be made “You should take the time to read it all, but not too quickly” this spring.
Polls taken in Sweden and Finland show that public opinion has changed significantly since the Ukraine conflict. A majority are now supportive of NATO joining. According to this month’s poll by Yle, a record-high 62% of the Finnish population would like to see their country in the western military alliance. According to the surveys, President Sauli Niinisto of Finland stated that there is no need for a referendum with this level support for NATO membership.
According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, both countries have good chances of joining the bloc “In a very quick manner.”
“Of course, it’s for them to decide but, if they apply, I expect that they will be very much welcomed by all 30 allies and that we will find ways to do that in a relatively quick way to take them into the alliance if they so want,” he told CNN on Sunday.
Russia warned Sweden and Finland against NATO membership.
“Evidently, the addition of Sweden and Finland to NATO, which in its first place is a military organization, will have severe military and political implications. This would require us to review our relations with them and take retaliatory steps.” Russian Foreign Ministry Second European Department Director Sergei Belyayev told Interfax news agency in March.
Russia launched its offensive following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. These protocols, which were mediated by France and Germany, had been created to regulate the status of these regions in the Ukrainian state.
Russia demanded Ukraine be declared neutral by the United States and refuse to join NATO. Kiev maintains that Russia’s offensive was not provoked and denies claims it planned to seize the two republics.