Finland will decide whether to join NATO in the coming weeks, not months

STOCKHOLM/HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland will make a decision on whether to apply to join the US-led NATO in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday, underlining a shift in security views since the Russian invasion. . Ukraine.

Finland, another Nordic country, and Sweden are close NATO partners, but have moved away from joining the 30-member alliance, which was established in 1949 to confront the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

“We have to be ready for all kinds of business from Russia,” Marin told reporters at a joint press conference in Stockholm with her Swedish counterpart.

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She said the option to join NATO should be carefully analyzed, but that everything changed when Russian forces invaded Ukraine in late February.

“The difference between being a partner and being a member is very clear and it will remain so. There is no other way to obtain security guarantees except under NATO’s common deterrence and defense as guaranteed by Article 5 of NATO,” she said.

“I’m not going to give any kind of timetable when we make our decisions, but I think it will happen very quickly – in a matter of weeks, not in a matter of months,” said Marin, whose country races 1,300 km (810 miles). The border with Russia to the east.

She said it was important to reach a consensus in Finland, which fought against Soviet invaders during World War II and has remained militarily unaligned ever since, and that political parties will hold talks internally and in parliament in the coming weeks.

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Public opinion in Finland has taken a drastic turn toward NATO, with the latest poll by private broadcaster MTV showing 68% of respondents in favor of joining, as opposed to just 12% against it.

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin speaks at a news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Schulz (not pictured) prior to talks at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, March 16, 2022. John McDougall/Paul via Reuters

“Yes, I was against joining NATO. But today I think it’s a reasonable option,” Phil Bohjonen, chief creative officer of a media company, told Reuters in Helsinki.

“Yes, sure,” said student Ante Laulaga, “I think Russia has shown its true face, so I think we should join NATO.”

An update in the Finnish government’s White Paper on its Foreign and Security Policy, published on Wednesday, said the Russian invasion profoundly changed the security situation, but made no recommendation on joining NATO.

Finland and Sweden, which are also reviewing their security policy with expected conclusions by the end of May, are participating in NATO exercises and crisis management initiatives as well as sharing intelligence with the alliance.

But until recently, the two northern neighbors felt that it was better to keep peace by not openly taking sides.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said there are pros and cons to being a NATO member although the main advantage was the security of Article 5, under which the alliance considers an attack on one member an attack on all.

Sweden was a neutral country during World War II and had not fought a war in over 200 years.

Russia has repeatedly warned both countries against joining NATO. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that if Finland and Sweden join NATO, Russia will have to “rebalance the situation” with its own measures. Read more

Additional reporting by Simon Johnson and Johan Allander in Stockholm, Anne Kuranen, Issey Leto and Serges Mikosa in Helsinki; Editing by Mark Heinrich

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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