Finland will officially join NATO on Tuesday, becoming the 31st member of the world’s largest military alliance – a move that Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said would make the region safer and the organization stronger.
“We will raise the Finnish flag for the first time here at NATO headquarters. It will be a good day for Finland’s security, for Nordic security and for NATO as a whole,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels on Monday.
“Sweden will also be safer as a result.”
Stoltenberg said he hoped Sweden could also join NATO in the coming months.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen and Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto were to attend a ceremony inaugurating Finland’s membership.
“It is a historic moment for us. For Finland, the most important goal of the meeting will be to emphasize NATO’s support for Ukraine as Russia continues its illegal aggression,” Haavisto said in a statement.
Turkey’s parliament approves Finland’s application for NATO membership
“We seek to promote stability and security throughout the Euro-Atlantic region.”
Finland’s entry into NATO comes after an election this weekend in which leftist Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who campaigned for her country’s NATO membership, lost to the opposition Conservatives.
Both Finland and Sweden abandoned their traditional military non-aligned positions after Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago.
The news of Finland’s accession prompted warnings from Russia that it would increase its defenses near their shared border if NATO deploys troops to its newest member.
“We will strengthen our military potential in the West and Northwest,” Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said in comments reported by the state news agency RIA Novosti.
“In the event of the deployment of forces from other NATO members on the territory of Finland, we will take additional measures to ensure Russia’s military security.”
Finland begins building fence on border with Russia as MPs vote to join NATO
Turkey was the last NATO country to ratify Finland’s accession after Ankara said Helsinki had taken steps to crack down on groups Turkey views as terrorists and to free up defense exports.
Turkey still blocks Sweden’s membership, but says Stockholm has failed to crack down on such groups sufficiently.