Brussels: Finland becomes the 31st member of NATO on Tuesday, in a historic strategic shift provoked by Moscow’s war on Ukraine, which doubles the US-led alliance’s border with Russia.
Last year, the Kremlin’s all-out invasion of Ukraine upended Europe’s security landscape and prompted Finland — and its neighbour Sweden — to drop decades of military non-alignment.
Awkward allies Turkey and Hungary, for different reasons of their own, delayed Finland’s bid to come under the NATO umbrella — and Stockholm’s progress remains blocked.
But last week, the Turkish parliament voted to clear Finland’s final hurdle.
Completing the ratification in well under a year still makes this the fastest membership process in the alliance’s recent history.
All that remained were Tuesday’s highly choreographed formalities at NATO headquarters.
Finland’s foreign minister will hand over the formal accession papers to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the keeper of NATO’s founding treaty.
Then the country’s blue-and-white flag will be raised next to those of its new allies, between Estonia and France, in front of the gleaming headquarters in Brussels.
“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.
“We are removing the room for miscalculation in Moscow about NATO’s readiness to protect Finland, and that makes Finland safer.”