Finland lays down gauntlet to Putin – PM to 'decide soon' about joining NATO


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Support in Finland for joining the military alliance has shot up since Vladimir Putin invaded Russia. Officials add that the country is prepared for “all kinds of actions” from Russia, should Putin retaliate to their membership. Public support for Finland’s NATO membership used to hover between 20 and 30 percent.

But recent polls have shown that since the war in Ukraine began, about 70 percent of the Finnish public want their country to join NATO.

Ms Marin said: “The fundamental aim is to guarantee peace for Finland in the future.”

She added that Finland has participated with NATO in “many international operations in two decades”, making them well-placed to join.

Previously Ms Marin had not been interested in joining NATO, reiterating that Finland had no intention of joining the alliance in January.

But in early April, she noted that “everything had changed” since Russia attacked Ukraine.

This was echoed by Finland’s former PM Alexander Stubb, who told AL Jazeera: “I think the decision on Finnish NATO membership was taken on February 24, at five o’clock in the morning, when Putin attacked Ukraine.

“The basic line of thought is that if Putin can slaughter his brothers, sisters and cousins in Ukraine, he can do that in Finland and Sweden, as well.”

However, it may not be smooth sailing for Finland, as Russia is predicted to be likely to respond.

During a visit to Sweden, Ms Marin warned: “Finland should be prepared for all kinds of actions from Russia.”

Mr Stubb added: “What we will see from the moment that we apply in mid-May, to the moment that we become NATO members, is there will be hybrid threats.

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“There will be cyberthreats, and there’ll be information war, and we’re prepared for that.

“For instance when Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was speaking in the Finnish Parliament about two and a half weeks ago, the homepages of Finland’s defence ministry and the foreign ministry went down. And, you know, obviously, it was a Russian attack.”

Russia, with which Finland shares a substantial 810-mile border, has threatened it will deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in its enclave in Kaliningrad if the country joins NATO.

In early March Finnish airline Finnair said its pilots noticed GPS interference near Kaliningrad, which is sandwiched between NATO members Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea’s east coast, just days after the threat.

10 aircraft have also reported unusual disturbances in GPS signals near Finland’s eastern border with Russia since the threat was made.

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has stated that Finland, as well as Sweden, would be able to join NATO quickly should they ask to.

He said last week: “If they decide to apply, Finland and Sweden will be warmly welcomed and I expect the process to go quickly.

He said he was sure arrangements could be found for the interim period between an application by the two Scandinavian countries and the formal ratification in the parliaments of all 30 NATO members.

“I am confident that there are ways to bridge that interim period in a way which is good enough and works for both Finland and Sweden,” Stoltenberg said.


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