Overwhelming Majority of Finns Consider Russia a 'Significant Military Threat'
In the wake of Russia's demilitarisation campaign in Ukraine, non-aligned Sweden and Finland saw a historic shift in public opinion in favour of NATO and are reportedly preparing to file membership applications, citing a change in Europe's security landscape.
A total of 84 percent of Finns consider Russia to be a “significant military threat”, according to a recent values and attitudes survey from the Finnish Business Policy and Forum (Eva).
The proportion of people who considered Russia a threat has jumped by 25 percent since last year.
By contrast, merely six percent of respondents said they didn't think Russia posed a major military threat.
Eva's survey also showed that more Finns found Russia untrustworthy, with 74 percent considering Russia to be an unreliable contract partner, a jump of 34 percent compared with last year.
Furthermore, only about a fifth of respondents considered Russia to be part of the European cultural sphere, while 60 percent answered they didn't.
Nevertheless, wholly 58 percent of respondents said they considered Russians to be pleasant people, while only around 20 percent disagreed with that statement.
“Finns' views on Russia are very gloomy. They also explain why a clear majority of Finns have turned to NATO membership. However, Finns believe that Russia's problem is not its people, but the country's leadership”, Eva's research manager Ilkka Haavisto said, commenting on the results.
Following Russia's military operation in Ukraine that started on 24 February, non-aligned Sweden and Finland are reportedly preparing to file applications for NATO membership, citing changes in the European security landscape. Polls held in recent weeks also indicate a historic shift in the public opinion in favour of the alliance.
Earlier this week, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced that her country will make the decision on whether to seek NATO membership “within weeks”.