The Finnish Flag Flies at NATO Headquarters as 31st Member
Finland has become the thirty-first member of NATO after a successful accession process, despite opposition from Russia. The Alliance raised the Finnish flag at NATO headquarters in Brussels as foreign ministers marked the country’s incorporation on the 74th anniversary of the organization. “For almost 75 years this great alliance has been a shield for our nations and continues to be so,” said Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Finland Joins Successful Alliance
“War has returned to Europe and Finland has decided to join NATO and be part of the most successful alliance in history,” said Stoltenberg. The end of Finland’s military non-alignment marks “a new era” for the country, according to Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also welcomed the addition of Finland and stated that this is perhaps the only thing for which we can thank Russian President Putin.
Russia Reacts to Finnish Membership
With the addition of Helsinki, NATO has doubled its land border with Russia, leading to warnings from Moscow. The country argues that NATO’s security will not be strengthened by Finland’s membership and that those who think Russia will not react are “profoundly” mistaken. Finland has not yet decided if it wants NATO to deploy troops on its territory.
A New NATO Era
Niinistö said that membership of the Alliance grants security to Finland, and the country is now protected by the collective security clause of the North Atlantic Treaty. All allies will respond if one is attacked. Traditional accession to NATO occurs via the United States Department of State, but in this instance, the allies decided that delivery of Finland’s ratification document should be made to their highest representative.
NATO Enlargement Since Ukraine Conflict
Finland’s accession marks the first enlargement of NATO since the start of the Russian war in Ukraine. However, Sweden’s accession is pending until Hungary and Turkey ratify their adherence. Tobias Billström, Sweden’s Foreign Minister, hailed Finland’s entrance and expressed his hope that his country will follow the same path “as soon as possible”.