Finland is hurtling towards NATO membership

Saturday - 09/04/2022 07:11
The NATO-Russia border would double at a stroke
Getty Images
Getty Images

EVEN AS RUSSIAN troops were massing on Ukraine’s borders in January, Sanna Marin, Finland’s prime minister, insisted that it was “very unlikely” her country would join NATO during her time in office. Less than three months and one invasion later, Finland is hurtling towards membership. On April 2nd Ms Marin told Finns that the country would have to reach a decision “this spring”. As she explained, “Russia is not the neighbour we thought it was.”

Finland, after two grinding wars with the Soviet Union, and unlike most of eastern Europe, kept its independence and democracy through the cold war. The price of doing so was neutrality. Finland bought arms from both East and West, but stayed out of alliances. That arrangement, and the way in which Soviet pressure distorted Finland’s domestic politics, became known by the pejorative term Finlandisation. When the USSR was dissolved, Finland, along with Sweden, took the leap of joining the European Union, binding it closer to other European countries. And after Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine in 2014, both countries intensified joint exercises and other forms of co-operation with NATO.

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