Finnish Parliament votes in favor of NATO membership
The Nordic country seeks to join the military alliance alongside Sweden
Finnish lawmakers voted on Tuesday in favor of requesting NATO membership. The vote came after parliament’s foreign affairs committee recommended the move due to a threat supposedly posed by Russian foreign policy to Europe.
The 200-seat body overwhelmingly supported the application, with 188 lawmakers backing the decision and just eight voting against it.
Earlier in the day, in Sweden, Foreign Minister Ann Linde signed a formal request for accession to NATO. The two nations had previously decided to seek membership in tandem.
The US-led military alliance pledged to speed up the admission process for both, citing the value of Sweden and Finland as future allies and their close integration with NATO military infrastructure. It usually takes years for countries to complete all the required reforms after receiving a Membership Action Plan.
All member states must formally accept the two applications, but Turkey has already said it may block the accession of the two Nordic countries due to what it called a record of harboring terrorists on their soil. Ankara was apparently referring to opponents of the Turkish government granted political asylum in Sweden and Finland.
Russia warned that the two nations were making a mistake by going against their respective traditions of non-alignment. Moscow said the two Nordic nations’ national security will be compromised rather than served by the move, since Russia will readjust its military posture accordingly. Russia perceives NATO as a hostile tool of Washington’s foreign policy and blames its unchecked expansion in Europe for the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.