Finland’s accession to NATO alliance achieved at last on April 4 

Military personnel raise the flag of Finland during a flag raising ceremony on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, April 4, 2023. Finland joined the NATO military alliance on Tuesday, dealing a major blow to Russia with a historic realignment of the continent triggered by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP Photo.

On March 30, the Turkish parliament ratified Finland’s application to join NATO, taking down the final roadblock hindering Finland’s much delayed accession into the expanded Atlantic alliance two days after the Hungarian parliament did the same – belatedly paving the way for Finland’s flag to be raised in a show of unity at NATO headquarters in Brussels, joining the flags of the other 30 alliance members, on April 4. 

Both Turkey and Hungary continue to thwart Sweden’s accession, however, leaving this last Nordic state outside of NATO for the time being. But unlike Norway, a NATO founding member, and Finland, its newest member, Sweden does not share a land border with Russia at all; therefore, Finland’s accession to the alliance is all the more consequential, further encircling Russia by integrating its last non-aligned Nordic neighbor sharing a common frontier, bringing western military power to Finland’s 1,340 km long border, which combined with Norway’s 196 km border already fully embedded into NATO’s strategic architecture, will soon create what will become a 1,536 km fortified frontier to contain any possible future Russian aggression against the Nordic region. 

Widely perceived as a diplomatic and strategic setback to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, who launched his Ukraine invasion over one year ago in part to prevent Kyiv’s further drift into the western camp and to forestall it from eventually joining NATO, and – Putin likely hoped – to thus deter other non-NATO states along its perimeter from seeking NATO membership down the road, thus far Russia has not expressed any grave concerns with this northern expansion of NATO. But in the years to come, it is anyone’s guess whether Finland’s abandonment of its long-embraced policy of neutrality will help or hinder its quest for greater security. For the moment, six of the seven democratic Arctic states are now bound together as military allies, providing a measure of hope that none will experience what Ukraine has gone through during these last 400 horrific days of war. 

UConn Department of Geography research scholar Barry Zellen interviewed Dr. Julian Reid, professor of international relations at University of Lapland on the implications of Finland’s historic accession to the NATO alliance. The interview will be presented in the next edition of the Daily Campus. 

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