Foreign and Security Policy

On Board! Finland and the New NATO

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has brought forward the biggest transformation in European security policy since the end of the Cold War. Most notably, Finland and Sweden have requested accession to NATO, ending their traditional military non-alignment. To better understand the High North’s views regarding current security challenges and NATO, Atlantik-Brücke hosted a discussion with Ambassador Kai Sauer, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Security Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland that was moderated by Erika Solomon, Berlin Correspondent at the New York Times.

A focus of the discussion was the changing security landscape, which, in large part, is due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. This has represented a “sea change” for Finland. The war has also had a profound effect on Finnish public opinion, a country that shares a more than 1,300 km-long border with Russia: whereas previously around 30% of the population was in favor of joining NATO, this number has since increased to almost 80%. One of the crucial strengths that Finland would have to offer NATO as a member state are the country’s military capabilities, chief among them hardware and artillery, as well as a large military reserve.

Furthermore, partly due to the increasing geopolitical significance of the Arctic, Finland is also faced with greater expectations and stressors than before. The importance of technology and the possibility of Swedish and Finnish 5G-manufacturers being more closely aligned with NATO were also discussed.

Another question was concerned with how Finnish civil society thought about the war and support for Ukraine. The high degree of solidarity in Finland with Ukraine and a commitment to support Ukraine was stressed.

The topic of energy independence was also brought up, and the concerns many Finns still have despite the country’s new nuclear plant, intended to reduce Finnland’s reliance on energy imports.

We would like to thank Microsoft for hosting the event and for the kind support.

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