Finland gets NATO green light, days before election

Briefly: The Turkish parliament approved Finland’s NATO membership in a late-night vote last Thursday, clearing the final obstacle to Helsinki’s accession to the military alliance. NATO will formalise Finland’s membership in coming days.

Finland, which shares a 1,340 km border with Russia, decided last year to end its history of non-alignment and join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Thursday’s news came just days before Finland’s general election yesterday (Sunday),which saw centre-left Prime Minister Sanna Marin ejected from power. The right-leaning Petteri Orpo will now seek to form a coalition government.

Intrigue’s take: Putin trotted out a bewildering array of justifications for invading Ukraine, ranging from Nazis and the oppression of Russian-speakers, through to NATO’s alleged expansion towards Russia’s borders.

Even if we took his NATO justification at face value (we don’t), Putin has failed spectacularly at achieving it. He’ll now have six immediate NATO neighbours instead of five. The total length of his NATO border now more than doubles to 2,553 km. And the queue of aspiring NATO members has only gotten longer.

For this reason, former Swedish PM Carl Bildt amusingly tweeted a year ago that Putin was NATO’s “salesperson of the year”. He was spot on. And still is.

Also worth noting:

  • Putin reportedly warned Finland against joining NATO in 2016: “When we look across the border now, we see a Finn on the other side. If Finland joins NATO, we will see an enemy.”
  • Finland’s decision to vote out Prime Minister Marin yesterday was not related to her NATO policy, which has been extremely popular.