What would it mean if Finland joined NATO – and how a worried Putin might respond
Joining NATO would be a seismic shift for Finland, shattering a long-held belief that remaining outside the military alliance is the best way to avoid trouble with its giant neighbour.
But, even more significantly, it comes at a time when a country that has been neutral for even longer – Sweden – is also considering joining.
If Finland and Sweden join NATO, Russia would find itself completely surrounded by NATO countries in the Baltic Sea and the Arctic.
If it happened – would there be consequences?
The Kremlin has warned of “military and political repercussions” if the Finns, or the Swedes, decide to join NATO.
Vladimir Putin, in his speech on the day Ukraine was invaded, said: “A military presence in territories bordering Russia, if we permit it to go ahead, will… create an ever-mounting and totally unacceptable threat to Russia.”
But analysts say military action against the Nordic countries appears unlikely, considering how involved Russian forces are in Ukraine.
Many of the Russian troops stationed near the Finnish border were relocated to Ukraine and have been hit by “significant losses”, Heli Hautala, a Finnish diplomat and research fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, has told AP.
More likely, she said, would be Moscow moving weapons systems closer to Finland, disinformation campaigns, cyber attacks, economic countermoves and steering migration toward the Russian-Finnish border, similar to what happened on Poland’s frontier with Belarus last year.