Finland’s leaders signalled they wanted to join NATO after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine sent a shiver of fear through its neighbours. Finland joined the NATO military alliance on April 4, dealing a major blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin with a historic realignment of Europe’s post-Cold War security landscape triggered by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Nordic country’s membership doubles Russia’s border with the world’s biggest security alliance. Finland had adopted neutrality after its defeat by the Soviets in World War II, but its leaders signalled they wanted to join NATO after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine sent a shiver of fear through its neighbours.
“The era of nonalignment in our history has come to an end -– a new era begins,” President Sauli Niinistö said before his country’s blue-and-white flag was raised outside NATO headquarters.
A short distance away, outside the security fence, a few dozen people wrapped in flags of their own chanted, “Ukraine needs NATO.”
In praising Finland’s membership, U.S. President Joe Biden noted it came on the 74th anniversary of the signing of NATO’s founding treaty on April 4, 1949.
“When Putin launched his brutal war of aggression against the people of Ukraine, he thought he could divide Europe and NATO. He was wrong,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “Today, we are more united than ever. And together — strengthened by our newest ally, Finland — we will continue to preserve transatlantic security, defend every inch of NATO territory, and meet any and all challenges we face.”