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What would be the impact of Finland joining Nato and how could Russia react?

The Nordic country are poised to declare they want to join the military alliance – a decision likely to spark fury in Moscow.

Finland could decide to apply for Nato membership as soon as Wednesday, according to newspaper Iltalehti, citing anonymous Finnish government sources.

With Helsinki on the brink of a major policy shift, the Standard looks at the impact of Finland joining Nato.

How could Finland join Nato?

Applying for membership of Nato would comprise of two steps, Iltalehti reported.

President Sauli Niinisto would first announce his approval for Finland to join followed by parliamentary groups giving their approval for the application.

There would be no subsequent vote in parliament but parliamentary leaders would express their groups’ decisions.

Adding new Nato members typically take months and the decision will need to be ratified by the alliance’s 30 members.

However, an anonymous Nato official told the Associated Press that the process could be expedited and completed in a “couple of weeks” as “these are not normal times”.

Why does Finland want to join?

Finland shares a 1,340km border with Russia and the two countries fought twice between 1939 and 1944.

Some 96,000 Finns, or 2.5 per cent of the population, died fighting the Russians in both conflicts, Reuters reported.

The country’s minister for European affairs Tytti Tuppurainen said the recent invasion of Ukraine had influenced policymaking in his government.

“It’s clear that everything has changed since Russia started the war in Ukraine,” he told Voice of America.

“What is the best way to ensure security of Finns and Finland? We are part of the West. And now you could see that this NATO membership is a sort of finalisation of our Western integration.”

The latest poll conducted by broadcaster YLE showed 76 per cent of Finns are now in favour of joining Nato.

What would be the potential impact?

The biggest impact would no doubt be felt in Stockholm where political leaders would feel compelled to begin an application for Sweden to join NATO.

Currently Sweden’s parliament is conducting a security policy review, including the pros and cons of Nato membership.

Results are due on May 13.

A parliamentary majority already exists in support of NATO membership in Sweden.

The country is unlikely to want to be the sole Nordic outsider should Finland join the alliance.

Denmark, Norway and Iceland joined the pact as founding members.

Recent polls show that 48 per cent of Swedes support joining Nato following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Politico reported.

Defence analysts said Finland and Sweden have modern and competent armed forces that would significantly boost NATO’s capabilities in Northern Europe.

Finnish and Swedish forces train so often with NATO that they are essentially interoperable.

How could Russia react?

Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said last month that the Kremlin would beef up its presence in the Baltic region were Finland and Sweden to join Nato.

Moscow has also raised the prospect of deploying nuclear weapons in the region.

Russia’s second biggest city St. Petersburg lies just 170 km from the border with Finland.

The Russian foreign ministry has warned “there will be serious military and political consequences” if both Sweden and Finland join NATO on March 12, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

However, defence analysts said any military action in Nordic countries appears unlikely given Moscow’s preoccupation with seizing eastern Ukraine.

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