While Finland will become the 31st member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Tuesday, as announced on Monday April 3 by its Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, Russia perceives this enlargement as a threat.

Shortly after Stoltenberg’s statement, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko announced plans to boost Russian military capabilities near border country Finland. “We will strengthen our military capabilities in the west and northwest,” he said, on the borders with Eastern Europe and the new NATO member country.

“In the event of the deployment of forces and assets of other NATO members on Finnish territory, we will take additional measures to reliably ensure the military security of Russia,” he added, quoted by Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

In view of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden have decided to turn the page on their policy of military non-alignment in force since the 1990s, itself inherited from decades of forced neutrality or chosen, applying to join NATO in May 2022.

Russia assured in March that it did not pose a “threat” to the two Nordic countries and had “no dispute” with them. However, the country perceives the enlargement of the Alliance to its borders as a fundamental threat to its security. Ukraine’s ambition to join NATO was one of the reasons given by Moscow to justify its attack on that country.

“Historic Day”

After ten months of suspense, Turkey finally gave its approval for Finland’s accession to NATO on Thursday, March 30, to the chagrin of Moscow.

“Tomorrow [Tuesday] we will welcome Finland as the 31st member,” Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday, noting that the Finnish flag would be raised on Tuesday mid-afternoon at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels. “It is truly a historic day,” he added, saying the country’s accession process had been “the fastest” in the Alliance’s recent history.

Already on Thursday, the Secretary General had tweeted that he had welcomed the vote of the Turkish Parliament “to complete the ratification of Finland’s membership; it will make the whole NATO family stronger and safer.”

Some time later, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö thanked the thirty NATO member countries for their “confidence and support”. “Finland will be a strong and capable ally, committed to the security of the Alliance”, promised the head of state, who wished the entry “as soon as possible” of Sweden.

Asked about the fate of the second Nordic country concerned, about which Turkey has not yet spoken, Jens Stoltenberg was optimistic during a press briefing on Monday: “I am absolutely confident that the Sweden will also become a member. It is, for NATO, for me, a priority to make sure this happens as quickly as possible,” he said.

Sweden, like Finland, is already highly integrated into NATO, enjoying guest country status.