Despite threats of despair from Russia looming over their heads, Finland’s parliament agreed that the nordic country would apply for membership into the NATO military alliance on Tuesday. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Finland’s government decided officially that Finland would apply for membership on Sunday. However, the decision was pending parliament’s approval. It is said that Sweden, the nation known for neutrality, will shortly follow their nordic counterpart in applying for the NATO alliance.
The historical policy shift was a direct response prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On Monday, Sweden said Europe was living in a dangerous new reality, referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s continuous behavior of derailing any policies and diplomacy in place has caused the entire world to continue with caution. Countries like Taiwan are issuing survival handbooks in fear of countries like China doing what Russia has done to Ukraine for more than two months.
Following the announcement on Thursday that Finland was considering applying to NATO, Russia refused the possibility of the countries joining and took the act of joining NATO as a ‘direct threat to Russia, promising unspecified “military-technical” measures. The addition of the country into NATO would expand the Western military alliance that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to prevent.
When asked about a Russian response, Finnish President Niinisto claimed Putin would be to blame for the decision to join, “My response would be that you caused this. Look at the mirror.” These words did nothing but fuel the fire of hate Russia has set ablaze across Western nations.
It may take up to a year for the nations to be accepted into NATO. Both neutral nations feel a sense of vulnerability while their applications are being processed, and their words continue to emphasize their vulnerable position. Russia has yet to respond to the announcement of Finland’s application to join NATO. In the past, Russian officials have spoken of the unspecified measures, including stationing nuclear-armed missiles on the Baltic Sea.
As Finland leaves its state of neutrality it has been in since the Cold War; this movement signifies one of the most significant shifts in European security in decades. It seems that NATO is unified when allowing the nordic nations to join. With the White house backing the move, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “We would support a NATO application by Finland and-or Sweden should they apply.” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg further assured the Finns, promising them they would be “warmly welcomed” and promised a “smooth and swift” accession process. However, one NATO member stands in the way of Finland and Sweden joining the alliance, Turkey.
Shortly after Finland’s announcement, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the Nordic nations shouldn’t bother sending delegations to convince Turkey of their bids. They won’t be approved to join NATO either way. On Monday, Erdogan said Turkey opposed the Finnish and the Swedish proposals to join Nato, describing Sweden as a “hatchery” for terrorist organizations. The Turkish president is angered by the two countries’ willingness to host Kurdish militants. The Turkish president went on to say, “Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organizations. How can we trust them?”
Speaking in parliament in Helsinki on Monday, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said he was surprised by Turkey’s stance but added that his government was not interested in “bargaining” with Turkish President Erdogan.
Seemingly at a stalemate before being able to submit their application, the two countries continue to maintain their opposing beliefs. For Finland and Sweden to join Nato, all 30 existing members must say yes. But for now, Turkey is the one saying no.