Finland’s NATO Partnership

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Finland applied for membership to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on 18 May 2022, together with Sweden, and the country officially joined NATO as the 31st member on 4 April 2023. Considering that the accession protocol was signed on July 5, 2022, it can be said that the membership process took place extremely quickly in less than a year. Although the Russian-Ukrainian War had a determining influence on the course of the process, the fact that Finland, which has been pursuing a policy of neutrality for a long time, has been a member of the Partnership for Peace since 1994, which is considered as a transitional step before full membership, and has provided support to NATO operations and operations has had a positive effect.[1]

As it will be remembered, Sweden and Finland’s membership processes started together after the NATO Madrid Summit in June 2022; however, Sweden’s membership was not welcomed yet, but Finland’s membership was realized due to Finland’s taking the necessary measures in the fight against terrorism.

In a statement on Finland’s NATO membership, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Finland’s membership is an event that does not contribute to strengthening stability, security and predictability on the European continent, poses an additional threat to Russia and obliges Russia to take the necessary measures to restabilize the entire security system.[2]

As one of the few countries in Europe with compulsory military service, Finland would provide NATO with considerable support in wartime with a force of 280,000 people.[3] The NATO accession, which is expected to change Europe’s security environment in the coming years, will further complicate relations with Russia, which opposes NATO’s expansion in the east.

In addition, the NATO Defense Planning Process [5] (NDPP)  for the use of Finland’s existing military capabilities by NATO will take time. The aim of the NDPP process is to harmonize national and alliance defense planning activities in order to ensure the most effective use of the necessary forces and capabilities by the allies. The NDPP process will mutually determine which and how much of Finland’s military capabilities will be allocated to NATO to meet the needs identified in the current political directive.

Defense planning is a process carried out in order to ensure the effective and efficient use of the resources allocated to defense in order to ensure survival, to achieve the objectives set and to protect interests.[6] For NATO, defense planning, whose ultimate goal is to produce the desired level of security, is a “capabilities-based” process. In this process, allied countries submit their military capabilities that they intend to allocate to NATO each year, in accordance with the NDPP process, and the free will of the countries decides.[7] The deployment of NATO elements in the country, or the extent to which the country’s own forces are allocated to NATO, will therefore depend on the decision of its politicians.

The first military advantage of Finland’s NATO membership is that it opens a reinforcement route for NATO’s Baltic states through the Baltic Sea, outside the Suwalki Corridor.[8] Finland would be able to provide reinforcements to the Baltic states by sea, in addition to the Suwalki Corridor, the narrow corridor separating Kaliningrad and Belarus, which Russia might try to close in a conflict. Although increased NATO flagged ship and aircraft activity in the Baltic Sea is expected to provide security relief to the Baltic states, it is also likely to increase tensions in the region.

Another advantage would be that Finland’s membership would strengthen NATO’s hand in the Arctic. Even though military matters are excluded from the Arctic Council’s mandate, six of the eight Council member states (USA, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Canada, Norway, Iceland, Norway, Russia) have already become NATO allies. Finland’s membership would be a positive contribution to NATO in terms of monitoring Russia’s military activities towards the Murmansk Base on the Kola Peninsula[9] in the Western Arctic, an important base for naval, air and global power projection capabilities.

The Russian Northern Fleet is home to advanced land, air and sea elements, as well as medium-range ballistic missiles, strategic bombers, nuclear ballistic missile submarines and submarine support bases. The base also has the capability to monitor the Northern Sea Route and to electronically blind hostile elements with its existing capabilities, and military surveillance activities to determine the mobility of the base would increase the risk of mutual hot conflict.

The final advantage is the accession to NATO of another country with experience in operations in the Arctic. In order to increase its combat capability in the Arctic, NATO conducts the “Cold Response” exercises hosted by Norway every two years. In 2022, approximately 30,000 troops, 220 aircraft and more than 50 ships from 27 countries participated in the exercise.

It is also clear that Finland’s NATO membership will have negative as well as positive consequences. Russian President Vladimir Putin[10], who stated before NATO membership that it would have political and military consequences, mentioned the development of Belarusian fighter jets to be capable of carrying Russian nuclear warheads and the delivery of the Iskander-M operational-tactical missile system to the Belarusian Armed Forces.[11]

With membership, The Helsinki administration, which in the past played the role of mediator and balancer between NATO and Russia and in the Arctic Council, has lost this position. Moreover, Finland has come within the primary scope of the ” Block Area Access and Restrict Operational Capability” capabilities in Belarus and the Kaliningrad Oblast. Therefore, the country will be one of Moscow’s near-targets in the event of a possible escalation.

In conclusion, Finland’s NATO membership, which was finalized in less than a year after it decided to become a member of NATO in response to the increased need for security following the Russia-Ukraine War, will show whether Finland’s NATO membership will be an event to thank Putin for, as US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said, or whether it will be a development that will have different results.

[1] Relations with Finland, NATO,, (Date of Accession: 05.04.2023).

[2] Dmitri Chirciu, “Russia: We Will Ensure Our Security Against Finland’s NATO Membership”, Anadolu Agency,, (Date of Accession: 05.04.2023).

[3] “Finland Becomes 31st Member of Nato in Brussels Ceremony”, The Guardian,, (Date of Accession: 05.04.2023).

[4] “How Finland Joining Boosts NATO Defenses Against Russia”, The Defence Post,, (Date of Accession: 05.04.2023).

[5] “NATO Defence Planning Process”, NATO,, (Date of Accession: 06.04.2023).

[6] Mehmet Hilmi Özdemir-Nursima Şahkulubey Baykal, Savunma Planlaması, Ferhat Pirinççi-Murat Yeşiltaş, der., SETA, Ankara 2022, p. 113.

[7] Mehmet Fatih Ceylan, NATO Geçmişi, Geleceği ve Günceli, Orion Kitabevi, Ankara 2022, p. 217.

[8] Elif Tektaş, “Baltıkların Anahtarı: Suwalki Koridoru”, ANKASAM,, (Date of Accession: 06.04.2023).

[9] Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. vd., “The Ice Curtain: Modernization on the Kola Peninsula”, Center for Strategic&International Crisis,, (Date of Accession: 06.04.2023).

[10] Steven Erlanger-Johanna Lemola, “Despite Russian Warnings: Finland and Sweden Draw Closer to NATO”, The New York Times,, (Date of Accession: 06.04.2023).

[11] Chris Jewers, “Russia is Set to Deploy More Nuclear Weapons in the Arctic after Finland Joined NATO: Analysts Say Putin will Escalate Tensions in an Attempt to Intimidate Europe and the West”, Mail Online,, (Date of Accession: 06.04.2023).

Emekli Deniz Albay Ferhan ORAL
1972 yılında Denizli’de doğdu. 1994 yılında Deniz Harp Okulundan mezun oldu. 24 yıllık meslek hayatı süresince değişik denizaltı gemileri ve karargah görevlerinde çalıştı. Çalıştığı karargah görevleri arasında, Bosna-Hersek AB Gücü Sivil-Asker İşbirliği Başkanlığı, Genelkurmay Başkanlığı Plan Prensipler Başkanlığı, Avrupa Müttefik Kuvvetleri Yüksek Karargahı (SHAPE) Harekat-İstihbarat Başkanlığı ve Çok Uluslu Deniz Güvenliği Mükemmeliyet Merkezi yer almaktadır. Sosyoloji ve Denizcilikte Emniyet, Güvenlik ve Çevre Yönetimi alanlarında yüksek lisans sahibi olup, halen Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi Denizcilik Fakültesinde Denizcilikte Emniyet, Güvenlik ve Çevre Yönetimi alanındaki doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. Ulusal hakemli dergilerde yayınlanmış üç makalesi bulunmaktadır. Deniz güvenliği ve NATO konuları araştırma ve çalışma alanları arasında olup İngilizce ve temel seviyede Fransızca bilmektedir.