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Finland Officially Becomes 31st NATO Member

Finland officially became the 31st member of the NATO military alliance Tuesday, an event brought on by the shock of Russia’s aggression in eastern Europe, according to Reuters.

Finland and Sweden reversed a decades-long nonalignment policy after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, beginning the process of seeking entry to the alliance that requires all members to come to the defense of any one attacked in May, Reuters reported. NATO members ratified Finland’s entrance on Thursday, sparking threats of “countermeasures” from Moscow.

“Not so many years ago we thought it was unthinkable that Finland would become a member. Now they will be a fully-fledged member of our alliance and that is truly historic,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, according to AFP.

“We are removing the room for miscalculation in Moscow about NATO’s readiness to protect Finland, and that makes Finland safer,” he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin cited NATO expansion as one of the justifications for invading Ukraine, Reuters reported. Any expansion of NATO represented an “encroachment on our security and on Russia’s national interests.”

In response to Finland’s official entry, Moscow warned that the move could increase the possibility of conflict intensifyingin Ukraine and potentially spilling over into NATO territory, according to Reuters. Russia will strengthen its military capacity in western regions of the country, defense minister Sergei Shoigui said.

Finland’s accession doubles the length of border Russia shares with NATO, according to Reuters.

Finland has one of Europe’s most powerful militaries and largest weapons arsenals but will not request NATO troops to be stationed on its territory, AFP reported.

Sweden hoped to join NATO concurrently with Finland, but members Turkey and Hungary have stalled its accession over disputes regarding alleged harboring of terrorists and what Hungarian President Victor Orban says is unfair criticism of his democratic record, according to Reuters.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced earlier in March his country would ratify Finland’s accession, clearing the final hurdle for Helsinki to join the alliance’s 30 additional members after Orban lifted opposition earlier that month.

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