Republic of Finland officially joins NATO

The Republic of Finland joined NATO on April 4, following a tumultuous process held up at times by Hungary and Turkey. The country is the 31st member state to NATO, one that spent much of the Cold War as a neutral or moderately neutral party, though Finland had undergone military drills with NATO forces in recent times.

The era of Finland’s non-alignment ended with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin, a long-time NATO enemy, wanted to prevent Russia’s border with NATO from expanding via Ukrainian membership, though through his invasion, he pushed Sweden and Finland, historically neutral countries, solidly into NATO. The coalition's border with Russia, a factor that Putin had raised concern about, has since doubled. While Finland will now enjoy the protections of the NATO coalition, Russia has threatened to deploy further military materials to the borders should the United States or any other NATO power put any weapons systems in the country. Finland’s entry also brings significant military capability into NATO, including some 1,500 artillery pieces, over a quarter of a million standing forces, and nearly a million more capable of being called up in the case of a war. These troops provide a serious increase in manpower to NATO, especially as the coalition continues to rebuild its strengths in Eastern Europe following post-Cold War drawdowns.

While NATO will receive substantial increases in military manpower, material, and stockpiles, Finland will gain protections afforded to NATO through Article 5 of the NATO charter — which indicates that an attack on any one nation within NATO is an attack on them all. This article provides any NATO member country with significant military aid and equipment in the case that they are invaded by a hostile power, and, thanks to the United States’ significant logistical power, would essentially entail giving any NATO member access to one of the largest arsenals in human history.

Finland’s joining of NATO was initially quite surprising — the country had not seen any reason to join the coalition prior to the invasion of Ukraine, but both Finland and Sweden saw massive spikes in approval towards joining following Russia’s offensive actions. With nearly four-fifths of Finland’s population now in favor of joining NATO, public perception on the coalition has shifted dramatically in the last two years.

As of right now, Sweden remains stranded outside of NATO membership as both Hungary and Turkey have not yet ratified the country's ascension. While the refusal of these powers to ratify Sweden has definitely been a road bump, considering the close integration and friendship between Sweden and Finland, both countries will now also be integrated into NATO, Finland explicitly, and Sweden by proxy.