Finland to apply to join NATO

Throughout the Cold War, Finland, which shares a 1300 km border with Russia, maintained a posture of neutrality vis-à-vis the Soviet Union and the Western bloc. If, like Sweden, it joined the European Union in 1995, it had never shown any desire to do the same vis-à-vis NATO. On the contrary, a few months ago, the majority of Finnish public opinion was opposed to such an approach, even if for several years, Helsinki had been drawing closer militarily to the United States and the Western bloc, and distancing itself from Moscow. The war in Ukraine will have caused a profound shift in this country both within public opinion, which now supports more than 60% a membership in the Atlantic Alliance, than in the political class, much more open to this hypothesis in recent weeks. However, the announcement made today by Prime Minister Sanna Marin constitutes a major change in the country's position on the international scene. Indeed, in a press release, the Finnish leader announced that she was going to submit an additional text to parliament on April 14, precisely to announce Finland's next candidacy to join NATO, and ask for the agreement of the parliament in this sense.

As Ukraine and Georgia have experienced, it is not enough to want to join the Atlantic Alliance to achieve this. But unlike these two countries, Finland offers an almost perfect file for this, having no territorial dispute with one of its neighbors, and offering higher socio-economic criteria than the majority of its members. In addition, the Finnish armies already employ NATO-compatible equipment and doctrines, and have long and frequent participation in exercises with its neighbors and members of the Alliance. In addition, Helsinki has become an important customer and partner of the US defense industry, having notably chosen the F-35 fighter to replace its F/A 18 Hornets, or the HIMARS long-range missile launcher system. In fact, Finland's membership of NATO is likely to meet with very little or no opposition, and could even proceed very quickly in the present context once the green light is given by the Finnish Parliament.

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