Most Finnish Officers Support NATO Membership, Survey Shows

© AFP 2022 / GEORGES GOBETNATO flag in the wind at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. (File)
NATO flag in the wind at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.12.2021
According to former MP and security policy expert Risto Penttilä, Finland's membership in NATO would be in Moscow's interests, as Finland would “strive for the best possible cooperation with Russia” and “calm NATO down”. However, Russia has repeatedly warned that the advance of the alliance further to its borders would prompt a reaction.
Approximately 65 percent of Finnish officers support the country joining NATO. For the sake of comparison, four years ago, the support was at 61 percent, the Finnish news channel MTV reported.
The chairman of the Finnish Officers Union, Lieutenant Colonel Ville Viita, sees no issues with joining NATO.

“The military is looking at this question from a practical standpoint. If the situation has changed, then why not get decent security guarantees?”, Viita told MTV.
Former MP and security policy expert Risto Penttilä argued that Finland has no other worthy military partners.

“If you look at the situation from a security policy perspective, what else is there for Finland? The military budget on its own is unlikely to greatly increase, the military alliance with Sweden doesn't seem promising, and Europe doesn't look very strong either. This logic leads in the direction of NATO,” Penttilä told MTV.

According to Penttilä, policymakers should mind Russia's possible reaction to Finland's NATO membership.

“Political and even trade differences may start. But Finland's joining NATO would be in Russia's interests, since Finland would strive for the best possible cooperation with Russia. Finland could calm NATO down and not take such an aggressive defensive position,” Penttilä argued.

During his visit to Finland in October, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the door remained open for Finland to join the military alliance.
A soldier of Finland - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.10.2021
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While historically non-aligned, Finland has in recent years been drifting towards the alliance alongside its neighbour and fellow non-aligned nation Sweden.
While both have so far decided against joining NATO, both Sweden and Finland have been developing closer co-operation with the alliance, including common military exercises, training activities, participation in the NATO Response Force, and the ratification and implementation of the Host Nation Support agreement which opens political and military-technological opportunities for NATO to use the land territory, airspace and territorial waters of Sweden and Finland.
According to the Finnish Foreign Policy Institute, defence cooperation has become “the most important driver of Finnish external affairs”. The institute noted an “ever more extensive cooperation binding Finland to the Western security system”, which has “further accelerated the waning of Finnish military non-alignment”.
Earlier, Russian Ambassador to Finland Pavel Kuznetsov lamented the fact that some countries “have to be afraid of Russia”. At the same time, he emphasised that the advance of NATO's military infrastructure closer to the Russian borders would prompt Moscow to take suitable measures.
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