Finland became the 31st member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) after officially joining the military alliance in April 2023. The decision to seek NATO membership came in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. While leaders of NATO countries welcomed Finland’s accession, Russia expressed concerns, warning that it could potentially escalate the conflict in Ukraine and could be a dangerous move. In this paper, I have tried to explore the significance of Finland’s potential membership in NATO by examining its implications for regional security and international relations. Also, the paper will analyse the historical context of Finland’s military neutrality, the factors that led to the country’s reconsideration of NATO membership, and the political and security dynamics surrounding the decision. This research seeks to provide a comprehensive understanding of the potential consequences of Finland’s accession to NATO by evaluating the potential impacts on Finland’s defence, regional stability, relations with Russia, and the broader European security.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance formed after WWII to counter the erstwhile USSR and influence of communism. It was established on 4th April, 1949 in Washington DC. The United States, France, United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Iceland, Portugal and Luxembourg were the founding members of this organisation. The primary purpose of NATO was to create a collective defence system against potential aggression from the USSR and its allies during the cold war period. Throughout the cold war, NATO played a crucial role in deterring Soviet expansionism in Europe and Asia. The alliance’s fundamental principle, Article 5 of the agreement, states that any attack on one member country will be considered as an attack on all the countries and all the members would respond collectively to defend its allies. The whole purpose of NATO was to counter the Soviet influence but after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, questions were raised about the existence of NATO and its relevance. However, instead of dissolving, the USA chose to expand the alliance and several countries which were part of the past soviet bloc joined the organisation. NATO has been involved in various military operations and interventions since the end of the cold war, for example, Kosovo conflict, war on terror in Afghanistan etc. In the 21st century NATO faced new challenges like terrorism, cyber warfare, and political instability in nearby countries. In recent years, there have been increased tensions between NATO and Russia, particularly due to Russian accession of Crimea which was a part of Ukraine till 2014. As a response, NATO has strengthened its presence in eastern Europe to reassure its allies and deter potential aggression from the Russian side.
1.2 Nordic Region
The Nordic region is a geographical area located in northern Europe having similar cultural ties between five countries of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway. These countries are located on the shores of three important seas- the arctic sea, Baltic sea and North sea. The Arctic region, with its vast resources and increasing geopolitical relevance, is also a critical factor in Nordic geopolitics. Russia’s assertive actions in the region have also heightened security concerns. In recent times, the Arctic region is drawing a lot of attention mainly because of the presence of natural resources and its potential for shipping new routes as ice melts. Geopolitics in the Nordic region is shaped by geographical location, historical ties, and economic interdependence. Tensions between Russia and some Nordic countries have continued to be a significant geopolitical concern. In recent years, Russia has increased military activity in the Baltic sea region, leading to heightened security concerns among Nordic countries and NATO allies. This region remains a focus of geopolitical interests due to its increasing economics and strategic importance. Nordic countries along with Arctic council members, have been working to balance environmental protection and sustainable development in the region. The melting of ice has opened new shipping routes and access to valuable natural resources, leading to increased international attention and competition.
1.3 Finland and Russia
Finland and Russia share a long and intertwined history, with Finland being part of the Russian Empire until gaining independence in 1917. Consequently, these two nations have experienced conflicts with each other in the past. During World War Two, Finland engaged in two wars against the Soviet Union: the Winter War from 1939 to 1940 and the Continuation War from 1941 to 1944. Interestingly, some observers have drawn parallels between the Winter War, during which Soviet forces invaded Finland in November 1939, and the recent invasion of Ukraine. In the Winter War, the Soviet Union anticipated a swift victory due to its significant military advantage but encountered challenges such as low morale, insufficient supplies, civilian resistance, and inadequate military training.
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