Russia invades Ukraine, country braces for major Donbas offensive

Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto  present the report on changes in the foreign and security policy of Finland, in Helsinki on Wednesday.
Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto present the report on changes in the foreign and security policy of Finland, in Helsinki on Wednesday. (Lehtikuva/Reuters)

The Finnish government presented a report Wednesday to the country’s parliament on the fundamental security changes that have occurred following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The wide-ranging report included an assessment on whether Finland should purse closer cooperation with NATO and considered the effects of a possible NATO membership.

If Finland and Sweden become full NATO members, the report said “the threshold for using military force in the Baltic Sea region would rise,” enhancing “the stability of the region in the long term.” 

Membership would include signing up to NATO’s founding principle of collective defense — commonly referred to as Article 5 — which means that an attack against one NATO ally is considered as an attack against all allies.

For Finland, the report outlined that “the most significant effect of its possible NATO membership would be that Finland would be part of NATO’s collective defence, and be covered by the security guarantees enshrined in Article 5.”

The deterrent effect of being a NATO member would be “considerably stronger than it is at present, as it would be based on the capabilities of the entire Alliance,” the report said, and “Finland would be prepared to support other NATO member countries in a possible Article 5 situation.”

The report outlined that possible membership in NATO “would significantly expand the area of the Alliance, double its land border with Russia, and move the Alliance closer to strategically important areas in Russia,” such as the Kola Peninsula and St. Petersburg.

Finland “would aim to continue to maintain functioning relations with Russia in the event it becomes a NATO member,” it added.

The report cautioned that given Russia’s “negative view towards NATO enlargement,” if Finland applied for NATO membership, it should be prepared for “risks that are difficult to anticipate, such as increasing tensions on the border between Finland and Russia.”

And the country would have to “strengthen its preparedness for becoming a target of wide-ranging hybrid influence activities,” it said.

The report added that “close cooperation between Finland and Sweden during possible accession processes would be important,” saying that a “simultaneous accession processes” from the two countries could also “facilitate preparation for and response to Russia’s possible reaction.” 

As part of accession talks to the alliance, the Finnish government said it would raise NATO’s military presence in the country, saying that “membership would not oblige Finland to accept nuclear weapons, permanent bases or troops in its territory.”

This, the report said, is similar to the agreement that Norway and Denmark have, which does not permit “permanent troops, bases or nuclear weapons of the Alliance in their territory during peacetime.”

Finland’s “contribution to the collective defence of the Alliance” would be negotiated during the accession process.

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