On Tuesday, Finland formally joined NATO, becoming the group’s 31st member. Hungary and Turkey’s ratification of Finland’s membership bid last week removed the last hurdles to Helsinki’s accession. The move comes as Sweden’s membership aspirations remain in limbo as Budapest and Ankara continue to withhold their support. Speaking ahead of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, Stoltenberg reiterated that he believed Stockholm is still on its way to ultimately joining the alliance as well. At their meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, ministers will discuss the alliance’s defense spending goals and future relationship with Kyiv.
In his press conference, the NATO chief also addressed multiple challenges facing the transatlantic alliance, including Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent announcement that Russia will deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus. Putin’s announcement is “part of a pattern of dangerous, reckless nuclear rhetoric” and an effort to use nuclear weapons as “intimidation, coercion to stop NATO allies and partners from supporting Ukraine”. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance “remains vigilant, we monitor very closely what Russia does.”
In a statement Monday, the Finnish president’s office said that, “Finland will deposit its instrument of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty with the U.S. State Department in Brussels on Tuesday” before the start of NATO foreign ministers’ session. Other topics discussed during the meeting were the alliance’s defense spending goals and future relationship with Kyiv. They will also attend a session of the NATO-Ukraine Commission together with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and meet with partners from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea.
Sanna Marin, the prime minister when Finland applied to join NATO, suffered defeat in a national election on Sunday. Her Social Democrats finished third, with the center-right National Coalition Party coming out on top. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Finland as the 31st member of NATO. He described it as a “good day for Finland’s security, for Nordic security, and for NATO as a whole”. Finland’s accession strengthens the alliance and supports its collective security mission. The move is sure to leave Russia feeling even more isolated and alone in the region.