Finland has become the 31st member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the world’s biggest military alliance.
On Tuesday, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, described the move as historic and said the Finnish flag would be raised at the NATO headquarters to signify full accession into the alliance.
“We will raise the Finnish flag for the first time here at the NATO headquarters. It will be a good day for Finland’s security, for Nordic security and for NATO as a whole,” Stoltenberg said.
He said he was hopeful that Sweden, who applied for membership at the same time as Finland, will also be able to join in the coming months.
All NATO members must unanimously agree for new members to join.
Pekka Haavisto, Finnish prime minister, said the country’s goal was to seek support for Ukraine, a shared neighbour with Russia, against the Kremlin invasion
“It is a historic moment for us. For Finland, the most important objective at the meeting will be to emphasise NATO’s support to Ukraine as Russia continues its illegal aggression. We seek to promote stability and security throughout the Euro-Atlantic region,” Havisto said.
Finland and Sweden sought protection under NATO’s security umbrella after Russia invaded Ukraine a little over a year ago.
Finland’s membership means that in the event the country is invaded or attacked, all NATO members, including the US, would come to its aid.
‘WE’RE WATCHING CLOSELY’
Alexander Grushko, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said Moscow would bolster its defences and take counter-measures to ensure its security, tactically and strategically.
“We will strengthen our military potential in the west and in the northwest. In case of deployment of forces of other NATO members on the territory of Finland, we will take addition steps to ensure Russia’s military security,” Grushko said.
Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, described NATO’s expansion as a “violation of our security and our national interests” and warned that Russia would be “watching closely” what happens in Finland.
One of President Vladimir Putin’s grievances before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine was NATO’s growing spread in Europe.
The NATO secretary-general assured that Sweden would become the next member to join.