Friday. 02.12.2022
DEFENCE

Helsinki expects Russian influence as Finland weighs NATO membership

The risks listed include greater tensions along the more than 1,300-kilometre border between Finland and Russia.

13/04/2022. Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto speaking before Parliament. Photo: Kimmo Brandt/Eduskunta.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto speaking before Parliament. Photo: Kimmo Brandt/Eduskunta.

The Finnish government said it is expecting an increase in Russian attempts to exert influence if the Scandinavian country applies to join NATO, a question that has gained urgency in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

If Finland does apply for NATO membership, the country would have to prepare for extensive attempts to exert influence along with other risks that are difficult to predict, according to a government security policy analysis presented by Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen and Interior Minister Krista Mikkonen.

The risks listed include greater tensions along the more than 1,300-kilometre border between Finland and Russia.

Their analysis addressed advantages and disadvantages of Finland's possible accession to NATO. The parliament in Helsinki is to debate the report next week.

Russia has warned Finland and Sweden several times against joining NATO in the past.

Armed attack

The most significant effect of joining NATO would be Finland's inclusion in the collective defence agreement enshrined in Article 5, according to the analysis.

Article 5 states that if any single member is the victim of an armed attack, every other member of the alliance considers it as an attack against all members.

If Finland did join NATO, this would also significantly expand the alliance's territory and double its land border with Russia, bringing NATO closer to key Russian territories such as the Kola Peninsula and St. Petersburg.

A further issue addressed by the analysis would be a possible NATO military presence in the country; becoming a member would not oblige Finland to accept the stationing of nuclear weapons, permanent bases or troops in the country.

Helsinki expects Russian influence as Finland weighs NATO membership
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