Finland will make a decision on whether to apply to join the alliance of the NATO leadered by USA in the coming weeks, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday, underlining a change in security prospects since the invasion of Russia a Ukraine.
Finland and neighboring fellow Nordic state Sweden are close NATO partners but have refused to join the 30-member alliance, founded in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
“We have to be prepared for all kinds of actions by Russia,” Marin told reporters at a joint news conference in Stockholm with his Swedish counterpart.
He said the option of joining NATO had to be carefully considered, but that everything had changed when Russian forces invaded Ukraine in late February.
“The difference between being a partner and being a member is very clear and will remain so. There is no other way to have security guarantees than under NATO’s deterrence and common defense, as guaranteed by NATO Article 5,” he said. .
“I’m not going to give any kind of timetable on when we’ll make our decisions, but I think it will happen pretty quickly, weeks from now, not months from now,” said Marin, whose country shares a 1,300-km (810-mile) long border with Russia to the east.
He said it was important to reach a consensus in Finland, which fought Soviet invaders during World War II and has been militarily non-aligned ever since, and that the political parties would hold talks within and in parliament in the coming weeks.
Public opinion in Finland has taken a U-turn regarding NATO, with the most recent poll by private broadcaster MTV showing 68% of those polled in favor of joining, with just 12% against.
“Yes, I used to be against joining NATO. But today I think it’s a reasonable option,” Ville Pohjonen, creative director of a media company, told Reuters in Helsinki.
Student Antti Laulaja said: “Yes, definitely, I think Russia has shown its true face, so I think we should join NATO.”
An update to the Finnish government’s white paper on its foreign and security policy, published on Wednesday, said Russia’s invasion had profoundly changed the security situation, but made no recommendation on joining NATO.
Finland participates in NATO exercises
Finland Y Sweden, which is also reviewing its security policy with conclusions expected by the end of May, are participating in exercises of the NATO and crisis management initiatives, as well as in intelligence sharing with the alliance.
But until recently, the two Nordic neighbors felt that the best way to keep the peace was not to publicly choose sides.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said there were pros and cons to being a NATO member, though the main advantage was the security of Article 5, under which the alliance treats an attack on one member as an attack on all.
Sweden was a neutral state during World War II and has not fought a war for more than 200 years.
Russia has repeatedly warned both countries not to join NATO. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that if Finland and Sweden were to join NATO, Russia would have to “rebalance the situation” with its own measures.
In AmericanPost.News We will follow the latest news from Finland as it suspended its rail link between Russia and the European Union.
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