A Disaster for Russia: Finland Debates Joining NATO

After a citizens’ movement sought a debate on the subject, Finland’s legislature explored the idea of the country joining the NATO organization.

The Big Question

Notwithstanding Prime Minister Sanna Marin of the Social Democratic Party saying, “there will be no wider discussion on Finland’s policy in connection to military alliances or non-alignment,” the Finnish legislature debated NATO on Tuesday.

“Given the citizens’ movement on NATO membership received the required number of votes and is on its way to Parliament, it is worthwhile to hear the parties’ perspectives on the issue.”

“Accordingly, the topic will be on the schedule for tomorrow’s congressional meeting,” Marin added.

Since Russia’s assault of Ukraine the week before, the question of Finland and Sweden entering NATO has risen to the frontline, with Russia directly warning both nations of the implications of doing so.

“The major parties concurred that the foreign policy situation has altered dramatically since Russia’s aggression on Ukraine,” Marin said in the House on Tuesday evening, summarizing the government’s position.

The continent of Europe is at war. “We have to confess that,” the Swedish news network, Svenska Yle, said.

Despite the fact popular sentiment on NATO membership was shifting, Prime Minister David Cameron indicated it would not be an “easily settled” matter and the administration would not “base decisions on an internet survey.”

Nonetheless, Finland is well-defended, according to Marin, even though the security expenditure must now be raised.

However, there is disagreement in parliament about the issue. According to Svenska Yle, the minority centrist-right National Alliance Party represents Finland joining NATO quickly.

Pekka Haavisto, Finland’s foreign affairs minister, dismissed the concerns over the weekend, stating, “We don’t believe it calls for a credible threat,” and adding Finland previously heard similar rhetoric.

Finland Want In

Attitudes toward Finland entering NATO have shifted dramatically in recent years, with only 19% of Finns favoring membership in the alliance, according to a 2017 poll.

According to a recent poll aired by the Finnish broadcaster YLE on Monday, 53% of Finns now defend the government joining NATO, while only 28% oppose breaking with the country’s generations-long neutrality.

“This is a genuinely important change of events in public opinion,” Johanna Vuorelma, a postdoctoral scientist at the University of Helsinki, said of the poll.

“Political continental crust is shifting, to put it that way. It never occurred to me there could be such a substantial shift in popular opinion.”

The study, which was undertaken the day before Russia’s incursion of Ukraine last week, found males are considerably more inclined than women to support NATO involvement, with 64% of men supporting the alliance vs. 41% of women.

Pharmacists in Finland have recorded high sales of iodine pills, which are used to protect against radioactive fallout, since the war in Ukraine began, highlighting Finns’ fears the violence could expand and deepen.