Finland officially joined NATO on Tuesday in a historic shift in its security policy driven by Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto completed the accession process by handing over an official document to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at NATO headquarters in Brussels, according to Reuters.
“With the receipt of this instrument of accession, we can now declare Finland to be the thirty-first member of NATO,” Blinken said.
The Finnish presidency said in a statement: “A new era has begun, every country maximizes its own security. So is Finland. At the same time, NATO membership strengthens our international position and allows room for maneuver. We have long been actively involved in NATO activities, as a partner.”
“In the future, Finland will make a contribution to the deterrence and collective defense of the Alliance,” she added.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Kremlin vowed to take “countermeasures” after Finland joined NATO, calling the alliance’s expansion a “compromise on the security” of Russia.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “This is a new escalation of the situation. NATO expansion is a violation of our security and national interests,” he said, according to AFP.
“This forces us to take countermeasures. We will closely follow what is happening in Finland (…) and how this poses a threat to us. Relevant action will be taken. “Our military will present the situation in due course.”
“Finland has never become anti-Russian and there is no disagreement” with it, he said, adding that joining the alliance “can only affect the nature of our relations” because the alliance “is an unfriendly organization, but rather hostile to Russia on more than one level.”
Finland’s accession to NATO, after adopting a policy of military non-alignment for 3 decades, allows the alliance to double the length of its borders, which its members share with Russia, which displeases Moscow.
Russia sees the U.S.-led alliance as one of the most significant threats to its security. Kyiv’s desire to join the alliance was one of the reasons Moscow indicated it to carry out its military operation in Ukraine.