From now on, we can rely on getting outside help should things get tough. And of course, we are ready to help should someone be in trouble.Finland Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen. Finland officially joined NATO on Tuesday, a process that was fast-tracked after Russia invaded Ukraine.
What To Know: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is the largest military alliance in the world, now with 31 members; rather than having its own troops, NATO relies on troops and resources from member nations to carry out missions. When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, there was a push to invite non-NATO members Finland and Sweden (Sweden is expected to join soon) to join the alliance to help bolster the alliance's presence in the region neighboring Russia. (Note: Ukraine is not a NATO member.)
Why It Matters: Finland's border with Russia is about 830 miles, therefore, their membership doubles NATO's land border with Russia. As of now, there are no NATO troops in Finland, though NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has not ruled out "the possibility of holding more military exercises there and said that NATO would not allow Russia’s demands to dictate the organization’s decisions" (The Associated Press).
Russia's Response: A Kremlin spokesperson told reporters, “We will be watching closely what is going on in Finland, how the NATO alliance will use Finnish territory in terms of deploying weapons, systems, and infrastructure there, which will be close to our borders and therefore threaten us. Depending on this, measures will be taken.”
NATO flags raised in Helsinki as Finland joins alliance (The Associated Press)
by Jenna Lee,