The Finnish government on Wednesday presented a report to the country’s parliament on fundamental changes in security that have taken place after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The comprehensive report included an assessment of whether Finland should pursue closer cooperation with NATO and looked at the effects of possible NATO membership.
If Finland and Sweden become full NATO members, the report states that “the threshold for the use of military force in the Baltic Sea region would rise”, thereby “increasing the region’s long-term stability”.
Membership includes adherence to NATO’s founding principle of collective defense — commonly referred to as Article 5 — which means that an attack on one NATO ally is considered an attack on all allies.
For Finland, the report outlined that “the main effect of its possible NATO membership would be that Finland would be part of NATO’s collective defense and covered by the security guarantees enshrined in Article 5.”
The deterrent effect of NATO membership would be “significantly stronger than it is today, as it would be based on the capabilities of the entire Alliance,” the report said, and “Finland would be willing to support other NATO member states in a possible Article 5 situation.”
The report outlined that a possible NATO membership would “significantly expand the Alliance’s territory, double the land border with Russia and bring the Alliance closer to strategically important areas in Russia,” such as the Kola Peninsula and St. Petersburg.
Finland “will strive to maintain functioning relations with Russia in the event that it becomes a NATO member,” it added.
The report warned that given Russia’s “negative view of NATO expansion,” Finland would have to be prepared for “dangerous-anticipation risks, such as rising tensions on the Finland-Russia border” if it applied for NATO membership. .
And the country should “strengthen its preparedness to become a target of broad hybrid influence activities,” it said.
The report added that “close cooperation between Finland and Sweden during possible accession processes would be important”, saying that a “simultaneous accession process” of the two countries could also “facilitate preparation for and response to Russia’s possible response.” .
As part of the alliance’s accession negotiations, the Finnish government said it would increase NATO’s military presence in the country, saying that “membership would not oblige Finland to accept nuclear weapons, permanent bases or troops on its territory.”
This, the report said, is similar to the agreement between Norway and Denmark, which “does not allow permanent Alliance troops, bases or nuclear weapons on their territory during peacetime”.
Finland’s “contribution to the collective defense of the Alliance” was to be negotiated during the accession process.