Nato border with Russia doubles as Finland becomes 31st member of security alliance

4 April 2023, 15:04 | Updated: 4 April 2023, 15:09

Finland has formally joined the NATO military alliance, after applying to join the security alliance following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Finland has formally joined the NATO military alliance, after applying to join the security alliance following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Picture: Getty

By Chris Samuel

Finland has officially become the 31st member of NATO, after security concerns following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

It means the length of the border that member states share with Russia with has roughly doubled, as the as the war in Ukraine continues with no end in sight.

The accession process was formally completed when Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto handed over accession papers to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at Nato's Brussels headquarters on Tuesday.

Welcoming Finland, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg noted that Russian leader Vladimir Putin had used stopping further NATO expansion as a justification for the invasion.

"He is getting exactly the opposite...Finland today, and soon also Sweden will become a full fledged member of the alliance," he said.

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Mr Blinken said: "I'm tempted to say this is maybe the one thing we can thank Mr Putin for. Because he once again here precipitated something he claims to want to prevent."

Finland's move was also hailed by the Ukrainian government, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's chief of staff Andriy Yermak writing on Telegram: "FI made the right choice. NATO is also a key goal for Ukraine."

Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto (L) hands over Finland's accession to NATO documents to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto (L) hands over Finland's accession to NATO documents to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Picture: Getty

The Kremlin has threatened that it could be forced to take "counter measures" for its own border's security in response.

Moscow spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the the expansion was an "encroachment on our security and on Russia's national interests".

Turkey, which was the last NATO member to ratify Finland's membership, had previously held out from supporting its ascension over concerns about Kurdish terrorist activity in the country.

Finnish military personnel install the Finnish national flag at the NATO headquarters in Brussels,
Finnish military personnel install the Finnish national flag at the NATO headquarters in Brussels,. Picture: Getty
A photo shows Finnish, Nato and US flags during a NATO foreign ministers' meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels
A photo shows Finnish, Nato and US flags during a NATO foreign ministers' meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels. Picture: Getty

But Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave his approval earlier in March, praising the "concrete steps" taken over Turkish security.

However, Ankara continues to block the approval of Sweden's membership, claiming Stockholm hasn't yet sufficiently clamped down on similar groups, which it denies.

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