Finland Officially Tells Vladimir Putin To Shove it

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Finnish leaders sound relatively unfazed by vague Russian threats regarding their country’s potential membership in NATO, and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto appeared to indicate that some of the most recent comments from inside Russia about his country potentially joining NATO would not majorly affect the decision-making process in any particular fashion. A recent report from The Times, a U.K. publication, stated that Finland and Sweden were “expected” to join NATO — a globe-spanning alliance that includes commitments by member countries to be involved in the defenses of other members, but there doesn’t appear to have been any formal public confirmation from either country of a final decision. National leaders have, however, made clear they’re open to it. As Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson explained her perspective: “I do not exclude Nato membership in any way.”

Finland shares a large land border with Russia, and for it to join NATO in the current geopolitical context would make the war in Ukraine an even larger strategic failure for Putin’s regime. As summarized by Yle News, Haavisto “said there is no reason to panic about the threats coming from Russia over Finland’s potential membership of the Nato alliance.” The foreign minister “added that Russia’s position on Finland and Sweden joining Nato has been common knowledge for a long time, and the reaction is therefore predictable and expected,” the same outlet recaps. As Haavisto himself put it, “It is not news that Russia is opposed to Nato enlargement, nor is it news that Russia will have to take it into account in planning its own defence.” The Finnish official added that he expects a government decision on applying for NATO membership to be reached within the next six weeks. Similarly, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin recently stated regarding the prospect of joining NATO that she believes the decision-making process in Finland “will happen quite fast. Within weeks, not within months.”

Yle News added that if “Finland does choose to apply to join Nato, the processing of the application would take time. This has led to much public and political discussion about whether Finland could receive security guarantees during the application process.” Ukraine’s relationship with NATO has been among the wide-ranging excuses offered by those on Putin’s side for the war. Since the current conflict began, there has been a significant build-up in the number of NATO troops stationed around the eastern edge of territory in Europe associated with the alliance. Some NATO-affiliated troops have been stationed in Poland — a NATO member country on the border with Ukraine — where authorities recently announced the detention of a Russian citizen who’d been in Poland for nearly two decades and was working on behalf of Russian intelligence services. This individual was alleged to have been collecting information on troop formations in the country, including those associated with both the national military and NATO. Polish authorities also detained two individuals suspected of collecting information for the Belarusian government, whose leader Alexander Lukashenko is one of Putin’s few remaining allies.