Despite remaining militarily neutral, Finland has always remained one of NATO’s closest allies. But as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues and Russian President Vladimir Putin poses a greater threat to global security, the Finnish president and prime minister have now announced that the country will apply “without delay” to join NATO. However, this decision has sparked a chilling response from Moscow as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that Russia would be forced to retaliate.
Peskov accuses NATO of creating “a new flank for the military” to threaten the country, saying Helsinki “must be aware of its responsibility and the consequences of such a move” to join the treaty .
Mr Peskov said: “Russia will be forced to retaliate, both military-technical and otherwise, to prevent threats to its national security from arising.”
“The expansion of NATO and the alliance’s approach to our borders does not make the world and our continent more stable and secure.”
He continued: “Everything will depend on how this process takes place, how far the military infrastructure goes to our borders.”
READ MORE: NATO allies: Finland joins alliance ‘without delay’ – full statement
What might these retaliatory measures entail?
A retaliatory method is speculated that this decision could have an impact on Finland’s gas supply from Russia.
About 60 to 70 percent of the gas used in Finland comes from Russia. On May 5, the Finnish government announced that it was prepared for the possibility that Russia would cut its gas supply in response to its accession to NATO.
This is probably due to the fact that Russian gas makes up only about five percent of Finland’s total energy consumption. Oil, wood-based biomass and nuclear energy are their main energy sources.
There are signs that Russia has already turned more towards Finland and neighboring Sweden, which also seems to be leaning closer to NATO membership, with the several airspace violations reported in recent weeks.
There are also reports of a propaganda campaign in Moscow with posters depicting Swedes in the public eye as Nazi sympathizers.
This was a similar tactic Putin used against Ukraine before launching his “special military operation” in February.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin is expected to give his stance on NATO membership on May 14.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is likely to do the same the next day.
Support to join the alliance in Finland seems strong, but the positioning is less clear in Sweden, with only 50 percent of the population supporting the move in national polls.
A number of politicians appear to be faithful to Sweden’s 200-year neutral stance, so whether this will be cast aside is still unknown.
However, if both countries decide to join, the legislative process will begin – a process NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said would be a “smooth and swift” accession.