Finland formally joined NATO as the 31st member state, eliminating its military non-alignment in the shortest admission procedure in history. Meanwhile, Russia has stated that it may be obliged to take “counter-measures.”
At a brief ceremony on Tuesday afternoon, Finland’s national flag was hoisted and the country’s song was performed for the first time at NATO headquarters.
“The era of military non-alignment in our history has come to an end. A new era begins,” Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto said at the ceremony on Tuesday, adding that he hoped to see neighbouring Sweden join soon.
“Finland’s membership is not complete without that of Sweden.”
“This is a historic day. We welcome Finland as the newest member of our Alliance,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken extended Finland’s official invitation to join the Alliance earlier on Tuesday. In exchange, Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto handed over his country’s accession instruments, completing requirements, according to Xinhua.
Because Finland did not cease spending on defence after the Cold War ended, the country is bringing well-trained and well-equipped armed troops with a high degree of preparedness, according to Stoltenberg.
According to Haavisto, Finland’s NATO membership will have no impact on the country’s foreign policy.
“Finland’s membership isn’t targeted against anyone … Finland is a stable and predictable Nordic country that seeks peaceful resolution of disputes,” he added.
Finland and Sweden both sought for NATO membership in May of last year and were formally asked to join in June.
All member nations must approve the accession procedure. Turkey was the final NATO member to endorse Finland’s accession attempt, while Turkey and Hungary continue to block Sweden’s entry to the Alliance.
In terms of Sweden’s accession process, Stoltenberg stated that trilateral consultations on Stockholm’s candidature will continue.
Moscow responded quickly to Finland’s formal NATO membership. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, said during a news conference on Tuesday that Moscow saw it as a worsening of the situation. NATO expansion, in Russia’s perspective, jeopardises its security and national interests.
NATO expansion “forces Russia to adopt counter-measures to safeguard its own security,” according to Peskov, as reported by Russia’s state-owned Sputnik News Agency.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Finland’s NATO membership was a “ill-conceived step” that would harm relations between Helsinki and Moscow.