Finland became the 31st country to join NATO on April 4, nearly a year after the country submitted its application in May 2022, a little over two months after Russia first invaded Ukraine.
Sweden also applied to join NATO in May but was delayed due to Turkey’s and Hungary’s objections to Sweden’s membership.
Finland did not join NATO when it was first founded in 1949 because it wanted to remain neutral after defeating the Nazis during WWII. For more than 70 years, both Finland nor Sweden did not join the alliance but instead pursued careful Cold War policies of neutrality and nonalignment.
This has added around 830 miles (1,300 kilometers) to the NATO border with Russia. Previously NATO only had around 755 miles (1,215 kilometers).
“Finland’s membership is not complete without that of Sweden. The persistent efforts for a rapid Swedish membership continue. Similarly, close cooperation continues to build common security and defense across the Nordic region,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said in the Office of the President of the Republic of Finland.
Finland now has access to the world’s largest military to help defend itself from its neighboring country, Russia. This would reduce the risk of Finland being attacked, as stated in Article 5, “attack on one is an attack on all.” This means that if a country attacked Finland, all other NATO members, which also include the U.S., would go to war.
“For Finland, the most important objective at the meeting will be to emphasize NATO’s support to Ukraine as Russia continues its illegal aggression. We seek to promote stability and security throughout the Euro-Atlantic region,” said Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto in a statement during the flag-raising ceremony in Brussels.
Russia has responded to Finland’s membership in NATO by increasing its defense near Russia’s northern border.
“Finland joining NATO would help spread the costs of defense in the area. Considering the proximity to Russia and the reason why they are joining, Russia is saying it is more likely to draw [U.S] into war with Russia,” said Matthew Lesenyie, a CSULB political science professor.
President Joe Biden congratulated Finland for this achievement and said, “When Putin launched his brutal war of aggression against the people of Ukraine, he thought he could divide Europe and NATO. He was wrong. Today, we are more united than ever.”