HELSINKI, Finland — Russia is threatening military and other measures after Finland joined NATO this week. Vladimir Putin is nervous because it ends Finland’s era of military non-alignment and doubles the length of NATO’s shared border with Russia.
The 31st flag was raised in front of the NATO headquarters in Brussels to mark Finland’s official becoming a new member of NATO. As a result, NATO countries now stretch 800 miles along the Russian border. It also means that the NATO alliance has more than 60% of the world’s military power.
“This is a truly historic day,” said US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. “And I’m tempted to say that might be the only thing we can thank Mr. Putin for, because once again he has accelerated here something that he claims he wants to prevent Russian aggression, which is has led many countries to believe that they need to do more to focus on their own defense and ensure that they can deter potential Russian aggression in the future.”
“We are excited that Finland is the 31st member of this alliance. So this is an important day for an already important day in the history of NATO,” he said.
CBN News visited a military museum here in Helsinki that details the history of the Finnish military. They were legendary, especially during the 20th century, because they successfully fought against superior numbers, mostly the Soviets, with fewer men and fewer guns.
That’s one of the reasons NATO leaders wanted Finland and Sweden to join. They could not force them to join for many years because they pursued a policy of military neutrality. But what NATO leaders failed at for years, Vladimir Putin succeeded in days.
Although Finland’s active military is small, it is very well equipped. Finland’s artillery power exceeds that of Poland, Germany, Norway and Sweden combined. Its forces have also trained alongside American troops for years.
Finnish entrepreneur Lars Kahre told us: “Since the situation in Europe has changed a lot in the last year, I think that (NATO membership) gives Finland a new opportunity for better security in the future. We hope for a long time. about our independence and neutrality, and now we just realized that this is not the way of the future, now we have to look for new options for the future.”
Retired citizen Mati Huskoenen said. “It’s much safer to live here in Finland (as part of NATO) because we have a long, long border with Russia and we haven’t really trusted that border to always be so safe.”
Another Finnish retiree, Maria Koivisto, told us: “Better than nothing, you know, if we’re left alone, there’s no chance in this situation.”
While the world waits to see how Putin will respond to this new move, part of the Kremlin’s discussion may focus on Finland’s reservists, which consist of more than 900,000 citizen soldiers, ready to deter further Russian aggression.