Logical but unexpected: Witnessing Finland’s path to NATO from a close distance, nato.int

Matti Pesu, researcher in the Finnish foreign policy

For Finnish officials and other national security professionals, Russia’s full-scale assault and Finland’s ensuing NATO bid were career-defining events. Carrying out a doctrinal change amid a tense security situation was a formidable and high-stakes task, which was further compounded by unprecedented media attention. Fortunately, the conditions for Finnish accession ultimately proved favourable. The Alliance welcomed Finland with open arms, Russia was either incapable or unwilling to retaliate, and, importantly, the accession united Finns across the political spectrum. […]

My views on the potential change in Finnish foreign policy were cautious. As a young student and scholar, I strongly advocated for Finland’s NATO membership. When I got older, my zeal for the cause somewhat flagged. Helsinki had built an extensive network of defence partnerships concentrating on territorial defence, and maintained strong national military capabilities. Russia had also become more aggressive and unpredictable. In a nutshell, although I thought that militarily it would make sense to join the Alliance, I was also of the opinion that membership in the Alliance was not worth exposing the country to severe security risks. In the early weeks of 2022, I was – without a doubt – in the wait-and-see camp. Läs artikel