Finland has officially become the 31st member to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The Finnish foreign minister handed the accession document to the US secretary of state who declared Finland a member.
The decision to join NATO was made after months of intense deliberations by the Finnish government, which had long been considering the possibility of joining the alliance. The move was seen as a significant shift in Finland’s foreign policy, which has traditionally maintained a policy of neutrality.
In a statement released by the Finnish government, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that “joining NATO is a logical step for Finland to ensure its security and stability in an increasingly complex and uncertain geopolitical environment. We believe that our membership in the alliance will enhance our cooperation with our neighbors and contribute to regional security.”
“We welcome Finland to the Alliance!,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, as Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto deposited Finland’s instrument of accession with the government of the United States, represented by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The Secretary General then welcomed Finnish President Sauli Niinistö to NATO Headquarters for a flag-raising ceremony to mark the country’s accession to the Alliance.
“We are removing the room for miscalculation in Moscow about NATO’s readiness to protect Finland, and that makes Finland safer.”
Finnish Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen called it “a win-win situation” ahead of the choreographed final formalities before Finland’s blue-and-white flag can be hoisted in front of NATO’s headquarters.
But Moscow decried the move as as an “assault” on Russia’s security and national interests.
“This forces us to take countermeasures… in tactical and strategic terms,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Joining NATO places Finland under the alliance’s Article Five, the collective defence pledge that an attack on one member “shall be considered an attack against them all”.
This was the guarantee Finnish leaders decided they needed as they watched Russian President Vladimir Putin’s devastating assault on Ukraine.
“He wanted less NATO along his borders. He wanted to close NATO’s door. No more NATO membership for any more countries in Europe. He’s getting exactly the opposite,” Stoltenberg said.
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