Moscow has warned Helsinki of possible “consequences” if they apply for NATO. Finland’s integration into this alliance would not be “against anyone”, the Finnish President said on Wednesday May 11. “Joining NATO would not be against anyone,” President Sauli Niinisto said while signing a declaration of mutual assistance with the UK in Helsinki. “It’s not a zero-sum game. If Finland increases its security, it is not at the expense of anyone else,” he said, alongside British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The president is due to formalize his “personal” stance on membership on Thursday, with a candidacy announcement expected in the coming days, likely with Sweden. “NATO is a defensive alliance,” Boris Johnson said. During a press conference in Helsinki, the two leaders signed a declaration of mutual assistance between Finland and the United Kingdom, in the event of war.
These assurances, identical to a text signed by Boris Johnson with Sweden earlier on Wednesday, must in particular be used during the period between a candidacy and NATO membership, the protection of the alliance being guaranteed only to members. . Asked about the risk that a candidacy for NATO will be perceived as a provocation by Moscow, the Finnish president estimated that it was Russia that had changed the situation at the end of 2021.
“They demanded that Finland and Sweden not join NATO. They demanded that NATO not take any additional members,” Sauli Niinistö recalled. “By saying this, Russia has in effect said that we no longer have our free choice. And that’s a huge change,” he said.
“It made us think and what happened on February 24 and the huge war that Russia is waging in Ukraine, that was also a game changer: they are ready to attack a neighboring country,” he said. – he said affirmed. Finland, which shares a border of nearly 1,300 kilometers with its Russian neighbor, had remained outside NATO after the end of the cold war, while becoming a partner of the alliance.