Russia has threatened to retaliate if Finland joins NATO

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin addresses a rally in Maneznaya Square, just outside the Kremlin in Moscow, late March 4, 2012.

Dmitry Astakhov AFP | Getty Images

Russia has condemned Finland’s plans to join NATO, claiming that it would be “forced” to take revenge if the long-neutral country joins the military alliance.

Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday that “Finland’s accession to NATO is a radical change in the country’s foreign policy.” “Russia will be forced to take retaliatory measures of both military-technical and other nature to counter threats to its national security.”

Finnish President Sauli Ninistিস্ত and Prime Minister Sanaa Marin have said the country should apply for NATO membership “without delay.”

It is This is still the strongest sign that Finland will make a formal application to join NATO. The membership will be historic for the Nordic country, which has a decade-long policy of military neutrality.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February has transformed countries such as Finland and Sweden into NATO members, and the latter is seriously considering submitting an application to join the alliance.

Ninisto said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had changed Finland’s security situation, although there was no immediate threat.

“NATO membership will strengthen Finland’s security,” the leaders said in a statement, adding that membership would “strengthen the entire defense alliance.”

Further expansion of NATO, one of the biggest bugbears of Russian President Vladimir Putin – could provoke an aggressive response from Russia, which shares an 830-mile long border with Finland.

For example, if Finland joins the military alliance, the land border that Russia shares with NATO territories will be roughly doubled. Russia has land borders with 14 countries and five of them are NATO members: Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Norway.

Russia’s foreign ministry on Thursday claimed that “NATO’s goal, whose member states have strongly convinced the Finnish side that there is no alternative to membership in the alliance, is clear – to continue expanding to Russia’s borders, to create another flank. Military threat to our country.”

Alliance changes

Russia has insisted that Finland’s military non-alignment policy has “served as a basis for stability” in northern Europe, but now, “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 joint security against the Soviet Union, the ancestor of modern Russia.

Since its inception, the alliance has had a thorny relationship with the Soviet Union since the Cold War and the collapse of the Russian Federation in 1991.

Finland did not join NATO when it was established, and its people – so far – have largely supported its neutral stance on maintaining peaceful relations with Russia. In fact, it signed a peace treaty with the Soviet Union in 1947 and another “friendship treaty” based on this principle in 1992.

In recent years, however, both Finland and Sweden have grown closer to NATO, participating in some coalition-led operations and missions.

Russia has said that Finland’s accession to NATO would violate the 1947 agreement, which stated that “the parties are obliged not to join the alliance or to join an alliance against one of them.” It further added that the 1992 agreement would also be violated.

“We will respond according to the situation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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