Cookie Settings Our site uses cookies in order for the site to function properly and for your user experience to be even better. You can read more about them use and control their settings.
Kokoomus.fi / Articles / Petteri Orpo: Finland and NATO – time for the next step 

Petteri Orpo: Finland and NATO – time for the next step 

Published:

On Febru­ary 24th Europe woke up to a gloomy morn­ing. The brutal war on Ukraine launched by Russia shocked the whole world. At that same moment the Euro­pean secu­rity changed. Pres­i­dent Putin’s war is a ruth­less breach of inter­na­tional agree­ments and Ukraine’s sover­eignty.

Russia and Putin should have no illu­sions of their mistake. Ukraini­ans did not surren­der and have shown heroic deter­mi­na­tion to defend their coun­try. Attempts to install a pro-Russ­ian puppet govern­ment in Ukraine in a matter of days have failed. In fact, the conse­quences of the war for Russia have been cata­strophic. Europe and West and more united than ever and Russia is lone­lier than ever. The EU found itself united on hard sanc­tions and is now seek­ing to cut its energy depen­dence from Russia.

Now Russia but bear the conse­quences. Russia has become isolated from the inter­na­tional commu­nity, and its econ­omy and entire finan­cial system are in near­ing a total collapse. Demon­stra­tions in Russia are on the rise. Return­ing to dialogue requires Russia to refrain from mili­tary actions and complete with­drawal from Ukraine.

Here in the North too, the devel­op­ment is moving in a direc­tion that Putin’s Russia certainly did not expect. Finland is inten­si­fy­ing its defence coop­er­a­tion with the United States, Sweden and our other Nordic part­ners. The public opin­ion in both Finland and Sweden has histor­i­cally shifted as the major­ity support NATO’s member­ship for the first time.

Now is the time for seri­ous consid­er­a­tion of what this change in the secu­rity envi­ron­ment means for us.

For Finland Russia’s prox­im­ity is a key geostrate­gic fact, and the war in Ukraine indi­cates how the prob­lems asso­ci­ated with Russia’s aggres­sive behav­iour have mate­ri­al­ized. Russia is defin­ing its inter­ests in a way that threat­ens peace in Europe and creates inse­cu­rity in others. During the past decade, there have been upris­ings in several of Russia’s neigh­bors, which the Krem­lin has sought to violently suppress. Russia seeks a new sphere of influ­ence and wants to halt the demo­c­ra­tic devel­op­ment of other coun­tries. Not NATO, but the people’s will to decide for them­selves seems to be a threat to Putin’s regime.

The rela­tions between Russia and the West are approach­ing danger­ous times. A last­ing détente in the short term or a return to multi­lat­eral coop­er­a­tion with the current Russ­ian regime seem very unlikely. While Finland is not facing direct mili­tary threats, it has become evident that we need to re-eval­u­ate our rela­tions with Russia. While we have advo­cated for good neigh­borly rela­tions with Russia, its aggres­sion and state­ments regard­ing Finland’s possi­ble NATO member­ship stip­u­late how even the prin­ci­ples of good rela­tions are subject to rapid changes.

As Russia is openly threat­en­ing peace in Europe, we need to look at all means to improve our own as well as Europe’s over­all secu­rity. There is a broad consen­sus in Finland that Euro­pean secu­rity has changed perma­nently. At the same time Finland’s poten­tial NATO member­ship is on the table. Finland has been a reli­able NATO part­ner since 1994 and today, we have a close polit­i­cal-mili­tary rela­tion­ship. In recent years we have partic­i­pated in NATO exer­cises concern­ing collec­tive secu­rity in Europe. In prac­tice, Finland has become completely NATO inter­op­er­a­ble during the past decades.

Now is the time for Finland and NATO to look at the next steps. The National Coali­tion Party has supported Finland’s NATO member­ship since 2006 and contin­ues to do so. We believe that Finland’s – as well as Sweden’s – NATO member­ship would improve not just our own secu­rity but the over­all defence of Europe. Regard­ing NATO’s defence of North­ern Europe, Finland is valu­able piece due to our mili­tary capa­bil­i­ties and geostrate­gic posi­tion between the High North and the Baltic Sea.

When other coun­tries down­sized their mili­taries and capa­bil­i­ties after the Cold War, Finland did the exact oppo­site, mean­ing that we have always prepared ourselves for conven­tional mili­tary threats as well. We never dropped the ball on national defence. Our war-time strength is 280 000 soldiers, not exclud­ing our state-of-the-art defence capa­bil­i­ties. Not forget­ting that our F-35 fighter acqui­si­tions will take Finland’s defense budget to more than 2% of GDP for several years.

It is safe to conclude that Finland has been a valu­able secu­rity contrib­u­tor in Euro­pean secu­rity and contin­ues to be one. As the pillars of Euro­pean secu­rity are in flux, a common approach to uphold­ing peace and stabil­ity in Europe in the future is neces­sary. In this sense, the time for the next chap­ter for Finland and NATO is now.

Petteri Orpo

Chair­man of the National Coali­tion Party in Finland

More content in the same category

Skip to content