At an official ceremony in Brussels on Tuesday, Finland became the 31st Member State of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) security alliance. Finnish Foreign Minister, Pekka Haavisto, officially handed over Finland’s accession documents to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, formalising the nation’s membership.
At a media event outside of NATO’s new headquarters in the Brussels municipality of Haren, NATO officials and members of the press gathered to watch Finland’s national flag be hoisted alongside the flags of the other 30 member nations. The event coincided with the alliance’s 74th anniversary.
Finland’s NATO membership was spurred by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine last year. With a sizable and porous border with Russia, Finnish officials worried that it may fall victim to Russian attacks or provocations.
The external borders of the NATO alliance have now nearly doubled, with Finland sharing a 1,340-kilometre border with Russia. The Kremlin sees Finland’s accession as a threat to its national security, previously warning that Finland’s membership made it a “legitimate target” and warning of “counter-measures.”
Around 80% of the Finnish population are in favour of NATO membership. Under Article 5 of the official NATO treaty, an attack against one member of the alliance is an attack against its entirety, providing a new heightened level of security protection. Alliance membership also means that the Finnish army must standardise its equipment and integrate into the larger NATO command structure.