OSLO / BARDUFOSS (VG) A Finnish application to join NATO can be submitted before the NATO Summit in June. The Russian invasion of Ukraine radically changed the Finns’ view of NATO. 62 percent now support Finland’s membership in NATO.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin will announce a report on Finnish security policy soon.
– NATO doors are now open and Finland has to decide on one of the applications in the spring, The Prime Minister said at the Social Democrats board meeting in the weekend.
– She added that Russia is not the neighbor we imagined.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and the government in recent weeks have conducted extensive diplomatic work in the major NATO capitals to pave the way for a possible implementation of NATO membership.
But neither Niinisto nor Marin have publicized their position on NATO membership.
Expected before June
– If all goes as planned, there may be demand from Finland long before the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June, says Henri Vanhanen.
He has a research background from the Finnish Institute of Foreign Policy. He is now an adviser in the Swedish parliament for the Finnish conservative Kokoomus party.
The government is expected to describe the new and dangerous situation of Finland after Russia attacked Ukraine. There will be an assessment of the alternatives that Finland is now facing, with advantages and disadvantages, but without clear advice at this time. Vanhanen tells VG they don’t want to tie the debate.
He has no doubts about where Finland is headed now. In a recent survey by YLE 62 percent of people want membership in NATO. 16% say no.
After the Riksdag has given its advice, the Government and the President can start formal proceedings by submitting an application. An agreement to join NATO would later require a two-thirds majority in the Swedish parliament. For now, Vanhanen says, it looks like the Finns are on their way to NATO.
1 of 3Photo: Martha Holmes/VG
Winter exercise in northern Norway
700 Finnish soldiers took part in the large Cold Response 2022 winter exercises in northern Norway in March. Finland and Sweden are NATO partner countries, and they are increasingly training with Norwegian soldiers in each other’s exercises.
Finnish soldiers met the VG at a camp near Finnsnes in Troms before the weekend, worried that the will of Finnish defense was high. Accordingly According to the Finnish Armed Forces, 280,000 soldiers can be mobilized during the war, and up to 870,000 are registered as reservists. Conscription is strong and compulsory for men.
Juta Kostamovara, 19, said she signed up for the service for the first time because she believed it was important to serve her country.
Gender equality has always been important to me. She said, “I think if I can do something and I can handle it, why shouldn’t I do it.”
Lieutenant Colonel Oskar Pavola did not want to comment on the NATO political issue, but said the Finns would benefit from training with NATO countries:
Finland is part of the Western world. We are working closely with our Western partners, for example on this exercise, as we strengthen our ability to work with Sweden and Norway in particular, he said.
Sweden’s concerns as well
The Finnish NATO operation is now closely coordinated with the Swedish government. A few weeks ago, Magdalena Andersson, prime minister of Social Democratic Sweden, was reluctant to discuss NATO membership. She said it could destabilize Sweden.
Now she expresses herself completely differently:
– She told Swedish TV last week that I do not rule out NATO membership in any way.
Andersen also announced an in-depth analysis by the government, about what is best for Sweden in the new situation in Europe.
One of the most exciting things about the Finnish debate is where Sweden lands, Henri Vanhanen tells VG.
He remembers the 1994 European Union process, when Swedish voters voted for membership a month after Finns voted for it.
Sweden probably needs a boost from Finland, he says.
When the VG crossed the front line during the military exercises between Barfufoss and Sørreisa, Finnish tanks were among those defending Norway with Sweden, against, among others, the French, the Americans and the Dutch:
1 of 3Photo: Martha Holmes/VG
NATO will be closed
one from Russia “Mandatory requirements” as of December, to prevent any further expansion of NATO. This applies not only to Ukraine. Putin also wanted to close the NATO door to Sweden and Finland.
But NATO has This claim is categorically rejectedHe pointed out that every nation has the right to determine its own path.
Since the war began on February 24, President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin have been in constant contact with other European leaders, including NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
President Joe Biden receives Finnish President at the White House on March 4.
Just before Easter, Niinistö has arrived Official visit to Oslo He will meet with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store (Labour).
According to VG information, Finland has explored, among other things, a guarantee of sales security that the country can receive in the interval between ordering and full membership – in the event that Russia tries to prevent Finland’s membership in NATO.
Finnish security police warned Sobo of possible Russian intervention:
“The whole Finnish society should be prepared for various actions from Russia, which will try to influence the decision-making process in Finland on the NATO issue,” he said. Sobo President Ante Beltari in a statement.
border with Russia
Finland shares a border with Russia of 1,340 km. The relationship with the neighbor to the east characterizes not only the Finnish defense and security policy. By comparison, the Norwegian border with Russia is barely 198 kilometers long.
– I have many Russian friends, and I am sad for them. They are good people and it is not their fault, said Jerry Baldanius, the press officer of the Finnish Defense Forces, as he led the VG towards the Finnish camp.
Finland’s Chief of Defense Staff, General Timo Kivenen, also visited his Nordic colleagues in Bardufoss near the end of the military exercises. In an email to VG, he wrote that Finland had taken important steps to ensure that it was ready to respond quickly to military threats after 2014, and that they would be ready to defend Finland in any situation.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine changed the security environment in Finland. Russia has stated that Finland is an unfriendly country as a member state of the European Union. But at the moment there is no immediate military threat to Finland, he says.
He says that interoperability with NATO forces has been taken into account in the development of the Finnish Defense Forces for several years.
– Information exchange with NATO has intensified since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
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