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Russia threatens “retaliatory measures” if Finland joins NATO.

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has shifted Finland’s and Sweden’s calculus on NATO membership, with the latter seriously considering joining the alliance.
  • Russia has slammed Finland’s plans to join NATO soon, claiming that the country would be “forced” to retaliate if the long-neutral country joined the military alliance.  
  • Russia claimed that Finland’s membership in NATO would violate a previous agreement that “provides for the parties’ obligation not to enter into alliances or participate in coalitions directed against one of them.” It also stated that the 1992 agreement would be violated. 
  • “Finland’s accession to NATO represents a fundamental shift in the country’s foreign policy,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday. “Russia will be forced to take retaliatory measures, both military-technical and otherwise, in order to prevent threats to its national security from emerging.” 
  • Prime Minister Sanna Marin stated that the country should apply to join NATO “as soon as possible.”
  • It is the clearest indication yet that Finland will submit a formal application to NATO. Membership would be historic for the Nordic country, which has maintained a policy of military neutrality for decades. 
  • Although there was no immediate threat, Niinisto stated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had altered Finland’s security situation. 
  • “NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security,” the leaders stated, adding that membership would “strengthen the entire defence alliance.” 
  • There are concerns that further NATO expansion, which is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s pet peeves, will prompt an aggressive response from Russia, which shares an 830-mile border with Finland.
  • Russia has land borders with 14 countries, five of which are NATO members: Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and Norway. 
  • According to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, “the goal of NATO, whose member countries vigorously convinced the Finnish side that there was no alternative to membership in the alliance, is clear — to continue expanding towards Russia’s borders, to create another flank for a military threat to our country.” 
  • Russia has insisted that Finland’s nonalignment policy “served as the foundation for stability” in Northern Europe, but that “Helsinki must be aware of the responsibility and consequences of such a move.”
  • NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was established in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several Western European countries to provide collective security against modern Russia’s forefather, the Soviet Union. Since its inception, the alliance has had a tense relationship with the Soviet Union and, following its demise in 1991, the Russian Federation. Finland did not join NATO when it was formed, and its public has largely supported its neutral position in order to maintain peaceful relations with Russia up until now. To build on this policy, it signed a peace treaty with the Soviet Union in 1947 and a further “friendship treaty” in 1992.
  • In recent years, however, Finland and Sweden have grown closer to NATO, participating in some of the alliance’s operations and missions. 

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