Finland takes steps to consider NATO membership

Finnish flag
Finnish flag naumoid/iStock

Finland's government expects to submit a national security analysis, which could lead to a NATO membership process, to the country's parliament by mid-April, Reuters reported Monday.

Per Reuters, the country of 5.5 million, which shares an 800-mile border with Russia, began moving aggressively toward membership after Russia invaded aspiring NATO member Ukraine and threatened "serious military and political consequences" if Finland attempted to join the alliance.

In Finland, public support for NATO membership stood at 60 percent in March, a 34 percent increase since the autumn of 2021, according to Newsweek. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Russia is "not the neighbor we thought it was" and that Russia's invasion of Ukraine and threats against Finland have changed the countries' relationship in an "irreversible" way.

Although Finland is not now a NATO member, Reuters explains, it maintains close ties with the alliance. Finnish miliary units aided in NATO operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo, participate in frequent military exercises with NATO forces, and form part of the NATO Response Force.

After World War II, during which Finland fought against the Soviet Union, Finland declined to join NATO, instead pursuing a policy known as the Paasikivi-Kekkonen doctrine. This policy "positioned Finland as a neutral country during the Cold War while maintaining good relations with" the Soviets, Wilson Center scholars Robin Forsberg and Jason C. Moyer write.

In Sweden, a country that has not fought a war since 1814, support for joining NATO has also increased, but Sweden is not moving toward membership nearly as rapidly as Finland, Reuters reports.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the steps Finland is taking in any potential decision to join NATO. We regret the error.

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