Finland joins NATO as Russia’s war grinds on in Ukraine | Russia-Ukraine war News


The Nordic nation becomes the 31st member of the world’s largest military alliance as Sweden waits to join.

Finland has joined NATO in a historic shift triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto completed the accession process by handing over an official document to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday. The US State Department is the repository of NATO texts concerning membership.

Jens Stoltenberg, head of the world’s largest military alliance, hailed “a good day for Finland’s security, for Nordic security and for NATO as a whole”.

Finland applied for NATO membership a year ago in May, alongside Sweden, as fears of Russian aggression rose in northern Europe following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

But Sweden is still waiting to join the group, which now comprises 31 members.

Finland’s border with Russia stretches across 1,300km (800 miles).

Russia casts NATO enlargement as a threat to its security and has said it will respond to Finnish membership by boosting its military capacity in its western and northwestern regions.

Moscow says one of the reasons why it sent its armed forces into Ukraine in February 2022 was to counter a threat from what it said were Western plans to use Ukraine as a platform to threaten Russia.

It says it is now fighting a “hybrid war” against NATO and the West, which is backing Ukraine with multi-billion-dollar packages of arms and financial support.

(Al Jazeera)

With Finland handing over of documents, Finnish membership doubled the alliance’s border with Russia and represents a major change in Europe’s security landscape.

The country adopted neutrality after its defeat by the Soviets in World War II.

But months after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine sent a shiver of fear through Moscow’s neighbours, Finland’s leaders signalled they wanted to join the alliance.

The move is a strategic and political blow to Putin, who has long complained about NATO’s expansion toward Russia and partly used that as a justification for the invasion. The alliance says it poses no threat to Moscow.

Russia warned that it would be forced to take “retaliatory measures” to address what it called security threats created by Finland’s membership.

On Tuesday, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told Russia’s military leadership in a meeting that Finland’s accession “creates the risks of a significant expansion of the conflict” in Ukraine, according to a transcript published by his ministry.

But he said it would not affect the outcome of what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Russia has also warned it will bolster forces near Finland if NATO sends any additional troops or equipment to what will be its 31st member country.

Neighbouring Sweden, which has avoided military alliances for more than 200 years, has also applied. But objections from NATO members Turkey and Hungary have delayed the process.INTERACTIVE - NATO TIMELINE OF MEMBER states 2023 Finland

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