Russia’s neighbor set to announce NATO bid – media — Analysis
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto is expected to support the accession of Finland into the Western Military Alliance on May 12.
Finnish media Iltalehti reports that Finland will declare its intention to join NATO May 12 in an effort to accelerate the process for applying to the military bloc.
The outlet reports that President Sauli Niinisto will support the alliance and announce it in the morning. Later that day, his announcement will be followed “In the spirit parliamentarism” by the parliamentary groups giving their approval as well.
Because the different parliamentary committees had already planned to address foreign and security issues on May 12, 2012, the date was selected. The decision was also approved by Prime Minister Sanna Marina.
“Finland has applied for membership.” Iltalehti said.
After that, the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy will approve the text and submit it to parliament for consideration.
These arrangements, the newspaper said, will speed up the process, avoid a parliamentary vote, and take the application to NATO “At high speeds.”
Finland shares a border to Russia with Sweden. Both countries are EU members and have thus far chosen not to join NATO.
According to polls conducted in both countries recently, the Russian military operation in Ukraine has caused a shift in public opinion. A greater number of respondents are now in favor of NATO membership than ever before. This led Stockholm and Helsinki both to reconsider their policies of non-alignment.
According to media reports, Finland and Sweden were planning on simultaneously submitting NATO membership applications in May. The Swedish parliament now has an overview on its security policy.
In early April, the alliance’s head, Jens Stoltenberg, said NATO “We are very grateful” Finland and Sweden if they apply to join, and is prepared to make a decision on membership “quite quickly.”
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, who previously expressed concerns over potential retaliation from Russia, said recently that the NATO countries have been “Very active” offering Helsinki “Both security and diplomatic assistance” for the period of the application process.
Russia considers the further expansion of NATO to be a direct threat to its own national security, and “For the entire architecture of security.” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov warned in April that Moscow would “Take additional steps” to make its defenses on the Western flank “More sophisticated” if Finland and Sweden join the bloc.
Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, following its failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Minsk Protocol, which was French and German-brokered, was intended to grant the regions that were separated from the Ukrainian state special status.
Since then, the Kremlin demanded Ukraine declare itself neutral and vow to never join NATO’s military bloc. Kiev claims that the Russian invasion was unprovoked. It also denies any plans to take the republics with force.