SHANGHAI, April 11. /TASS/. Finland's accession to NATO was not driven by a desire to ensure its own security; rather, the real meaning of this symbolic gesture was to put its opposition to Russia on display, Long Jing, deputy director of the Center for European Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told TASS on Tuesday.
"I believe that Finland's accession to NATO affects Russia's national security in the most serious way. We know that Finland is a very important neighbor of Russia. The land border between the two countries is about 1,300 kilometers long," she said, noting that this move by Helsinki would raise serious concerns in Russia over the North Atlantic Alliance's military presence near its borders and would also add fuel to the conflict.
"Russia may take serious retaliatory measures," the expert believes.
Long also offered her opinion concerning the reasons behind Finland's decision.
"I think that Finland joined NATO not to get protection or guarantees that the alliance would provide military hardware. Rather, its accession to NATO is more of a symbolic nature, specifically to publicly demonstrate [Helsinki’s] change in position regarding regional security structures and make clear its confrontational attitude toward Russia," she believes.
This decision, the expert stated, also pertains to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
"We know that Finland previously had preferred to stay out of NATO, but its neutral policy of non-alignment with the alliance differed from the policies of other neutral countries, for example, Austria and Switzerland," Long said.
The expert pointed out that Austria and Switzerland relied on their neutral status in ensuring their own security.
"However, as for Finland, [previously] it did not join NATO, but at the same time was continuously beefing up its military capabilities. We can say that it is a country with a robust military that, at the same time, worked closely with NATO on various tracks," she pointed out. Therefore, according to the expert, Finland will continue its close cooperation with NATO in line with the old pattern, which previously had allowed it to build up its armed forces to ensure its own security.
China, Long recalled, has always advocated a stance in which escalating conflicts is unacceptable.
"Now we see that, with Finland's accession to NATO, the conflict has gone into high gear. As for future developments, the security situation in Europe has rolled back to that which existed during the Cold War. It is even worse," she summarized.
Accession to NATO
Sweden and Finland applied to join the North Atlantic Alliance in May 2022, but the accession process was blocked by Turkey, which demanded that the Nordic countries declare Kurdish organizations as terrorist organizations and extradite certain individuals that Ankara accused of terrorism or involvement in the 2016 coup attempt. In a bid to resolve these issues before the NATO summit in 2022, Turkey, Finland and Sweden signed a memorandum containing a list of specific steps that Ankara believed the two Nordic countries should take. The Turkish parliament approved a bill to ratify Finland's accession to NATO on March 30. On April 4, Finland was officially admitted to the bloc as the 31st member of the alliance.