NATO leaders welcome Finland to alliance, Russia angry

Russian officials quickly pledged retaliation on Thursday because Finlandof top leaders confirm they are ready to abandon decades of neutrality and apply to join NATO “Urgent” military alliance.

Finland’s application was warmly welcomed by top NATO and Western leaders, it will be a major geopolitical counterattack to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade neighboring countries Ukraine in late February.The Kremlin explicitly defended the operation, in part to protest and prevent further NATO Expand eastward.

Sweden, another country that has long refused to formally join the EU NATO, is widely expected to follow in Helsinki’s footsteps in the coming days.In the two Scandinavian countries, public opinion, which had long been on the sidelines, turned sharply in favour NATO Membership almost from the day the Russian army entered Ukraine February 24.

“It will take time for Parliament and society as a whole to take a stand on this issue. It will take time for close international engagement NATO Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a statement.

Add to Finland arrive NATO The Finnish leader said the alliance would also strengthen Europe’s collective security.

“We hope to take the national steps needed to make this decision swiftly in the coming days,” they said.

SEE ALSO: How Putin’s war in Ukraine backfired

Leaders of Germany, the Baltic states and European countries were quick to issue statements praising Finland’s decision, while NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg predicted that Helsinki’s application would go through without a hitch.

“should Finland Decide to apply and they will be warmly welcomed NATOand the joining process will be smooth and quick,” Mr Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.

But Moscow reacted violently to the news, pledging measures against a country with which it shares an 830-mile border.

Finland join in NATO is a fundamental change in the country’s foreign policy,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.Russia will be forced to resort to military-technical and other retaliatory measures to stop threats to their national security. “

Moscow is considering cutting off oil shipments to its neighbors to express its dissatisfaction, a Russian newspaper said.An analysis by TASS’ official news service on Thursday predicted that Helsinki would lose influence, becoming the 28th country in the country NATOrather than playing the role of an “honest broker” between Russia and the West.

“Of course it will,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said when asked if FinlandThe company’s bid poses a threat to Russia’s interests, according to the official Interfax news agency. “Another expansion NATO will not make our continent more stable and secure. “

Like a matter of geography, having Finland in NATO would more than double the length of the border between the two countries Western Union and RussiaBundle NATO Just a few hours drive from the northern suburbs of St. Petersburg.

but FinlandEarlier this week, Mr Niinisto said in a meeting with visiting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that Putin himself was responsible for the rapid shift in Britain’s attitude. Finland towards NATO.

Russia “Caused this,” he said Wednesday. “Look in the mirror.”

Finland’s president tweeted on Thursday that he had spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Finlandintention to join NATOMr. Zelensky “expresses his full support,” Niinisto said.

major reversal

A recent poll by Finnish public broadcaster YLE found that 76% of Finns are now in favour of joining NATOa major reversal from earlier years, when only 20-30% of respondents favored such a military alliance.

while supporting and expanding NATO membership Russiainvasion Ukraine With bipartisan support expected on Capitol Hill, some analysts say a Biden administration should not blindly expand the list of coalitions just to punish Russia.

Officials at the liberal-leaning defense-first think tank argue that Washington should not support an increase Finland arrive NATO Until European members assure them that they will take the lead in defending the Nordic countries “rather than relying on American efforts as usual”.

“questionable Finland joined with sweden NATO If anything, it’s less urgent today because Russiainvasion Ukraine,” Benjamin Friedman, director of Defense Priorities Policy, said in a statement. “War has eroded. RussiaThe conventional strength of a man and showing his abilities are not as frightening as they once were. “

But some Republican lawmakers were critical of some of Biden’s decisions. Ukraine The Finnish bid was quickly supported.

“America should welcome Finland Enter NATO Alliance with open arms,” ​​Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, said in a statement.Finland With a proud history of resisting Russian aggression, it will be a valuable ally in Europe. Finlandmilitary strength will soon exceed NATO Military spending requirements and averages, demonstrating its ability to contribute to the alliance. “

The U.S. State Department announced Thursday that Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken will travel to Berlin on Friday to meet with NATO Foreign Minister, Finland’s decision is likely to be a major part of the discussion.

— This article is based in part on Telegram service reports.

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