Finland joins NATO: A new Era in the beginning?

Finland becomes the 31st country to join NATO.The confirmation came on April 4 on the day of NATOs founding day. The secretary general of NATO Jan’s Stoltenberg raised Finlands flag on NATO headquarters and officially starting a new era in the history of this security alliance. On a statement by the Finland’s president he said that,“Finland has today become a member of the defense alliance NATO. The era of military non-alignment in our history has come to an end. A new era begins.” NATO general secretary also Said indicating Vladimir Putin,“He wanted less NATO along his borders , He’s getting exactly the opposite”. With the joining of Finland NATO doubles it’s boarders with Russia. previously the joining of Estonia and Latvia brought NATO to the Russian boarder. so this alliance will have a major impact in the coming days specially in the Nordic region.

NATO an  Military alliance led by the United States was established in 1949 with an aim to deter the expansion of the Soviet union but after the dissolution of the Soviet union NATO quickly changed its course and made itself a security pact with an aim to protect it’s allies in Europe and the Atlantic.As a result of this NATO still survives today.

Past NATO expansions

During it’s founding NATO only had 12 members and through the course of time numbers of members increased and currently sits at 31. Let’s take a look past NATO expansions.

1949: On April 4 the North Atlantic Treaty organization is found with 12 members joining initially since then for 74 years NATO has been expanding eastward.

1952: Turkey and Greece joins NATO making turkey the first Asian NATO members and still the only Asian member.

1955: West Germany becomes NATO member and a response to this Warsaw pact by the USSR is created.

1982: Spain becomes member.

1990: with the fall of Berlin wall and Germany unified Germany becomes a part of NATO.

1991: Soviet union falls and the Warsaw pact dissolves this also calls an end to the Cold war and can be seen as the beginning of NATO eastward expansion.

1994: Finland and Sweden joins NATO peace programme while maintaining military neutrality.

1999: Former Soviet satellite States and Warsaw pact members Czech republic, Hungary and Poland joins NATO and as a immediate result of this NATO for the first time has a border with Russia.

2001: on the wake of 9/11 terrorist attack for the first time in history NATO article-5 is activated.

2002: Russia and NATO creates a council to work together on security issues.

2003: NATO forces take on Afghanistan.

2004: seven countries including Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joins NATO which is largest NATO expansion till this date.

2008: Ukraine and Georgia shows interest in joining NATO prompting Putin to attack Georgia and Russia still holds 20% of Georgian territory.

2009: Croatia and Albania joins NATO.

2014: NATO suspends joint council with Russia because of Russian annexation of Crimea.

2017: Montenegro joins NATO .

2020: North Macedonia.

2023: Finland becomes 31st and the latest NATO member.

Causes and result of expansion

After the end of Cold war NATO started it’s eastward expansion and since then Former Soviet satellite States started joining NATO. During the 1990 s in the Russians southern side there began instability like the Chechen war, Dissolution of yougoslavia and Bosnian genocide,ethnic strifes among Armenia and Ajarbijan all promoted the Former satellites to join NATO with an aim to ensure security. But the result of this expansion can still be felt today. The Russians believe that NATO promise Gorbachev that they won’t expand eastward and because of this promise Gorbachev agreed for the dissolution of the Soviet union.  But there were not any written or signed treaty among them. Boris Yeltsin in 1993 described it as ‘spirit of the treaty’. Russian president Vladimir Putin often uses this reason to attack his neighbors. He says, “You promised us in the 1990s that Nato would not move an inch to the East. You cheated us shamelessly” and this is the origin of Putin’s allegation that NATO has cheated Russia. As a result of this Putin attacked Georgia in 2008 after the country showed interest to join NATO and also Putin uses this to legitimize his War on Ukraine.

Russian response to Finland’s joining of NATO

Finland shares 832 mile border with Russia. Finland showed is concern over Russian aggression as a root cause to joining NATO and this joining has certainly created strong response among the Russian leadership and Kremlin has vowed to that it could be forced to take “counter measures” to ensure its own border security. On his daily briefing to Russian reporters Moscow spokesperson Dimitri said, “Naturally, this forces us to take countermeasures to ensure our own tactical and strategic security,”

On a separate comment, Russian foreign ministry vowed to take “military, technical and other retaliatory measures”.

Implications in the future of the alliance

With the joining of Finland the country will have the access to NATO resources also Finland will now come under article-5 of NATO  which means that, “any attacks made on an NATO member will count as an attack on all members and all will retaliate in this case”. Also finish troops will train with NATO troops and participate in various NATO excercises. Finland has also signed F-35 stealth fighter program which will allow The finish Air Force( FAF) to work jointly with Canada,UK and other NATO members. An interesting fact here is that Finland has one of the largest and best equipped Artillery force in western Europe this includes 1500 Artillery weapons including 100 missiles.  Finlands joining of NATO isn’t without any consequences but rather will face challenges from Russia who are bitter and infact went on to war with Ukraine to keep NATO out of its door but is facing the opposite so The Russians won’t be Happy about it and might even make Putin retaliate more in Ukraine.We can also expect Sweden who have been trying to join NATO for a long time also join in a near future and thus bringing more security to this once neutral Nordic region.

Finland’s joining of NATO is a historical matter indeed and will have long effects in the future specially in the Eastern part of region we can expect this move to also motivate other countries lik Georgia and Bosnia  to join NATO . Now NATO with 31 member is becoming stronger than ever and we can hope that this will bring security and stability. Despite Russia’s response to beef up their own border they can also go into talk regarding this issue cause Russia alone cannot fight it.

Sadi Mohammod
Sadi Mohammod
Author is a third year student of International Relations at Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh . He is interested in history and international politics with an keen interest in US-CHINA relationship.