Finland’s bid to join NATO 
GS Paper 2, International Relations, Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries.

  • Finland’s strategic geopolitical uncertainty has finally come to an end, with the country publicly announcing its decision to join NATO. Aleksey Zhuravlyov, deputy chair of the Russian Défense Committee, advocated Russia nuking Europe and questioned Finland’s very existence on Russian official television. This is identical to their reasoning for invading Ukraine.

About NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization):

  • NATO is a military organisation. It was founded in 1949 by 12 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and France.
  • Members commit to help one another if they are attacked by armed forces. Finland will bring the total to 31.
  • NATO’s first goal was to resist Russian expansion in Europe following WWII.
  • Following the fraction of the Soviet Union in 1991, several of its former Eastern European partners joined NATO.

What does membership entail, and how will it assist NATO?

  • NATO membership provides the states with security guarantees under the alliance’s “Article 5” on collective defence. The clause effectively assures NATO countries a military reaction and protection if any member of the organisation is attacked.
  • NATO has also shown interest in Finland and Sweden joining. It can take up to a year to become an official NATO member since it requires the consent of all current member nations. However, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has assured the nations that they would be able to join NATO shortly and that the organisation will provide complete security guarantees in the interim.
  • Finland’s geographical location works in its favour since if it joins, the length of Russia’s borders with NATO would quadruple, strengthening the alliance’s presence in the Baltic Sea.

What is Finland’s motivation for wanting to join NATO?

  • Finland and Russia have a 1,340-kilometre (830 mi) border. Finland is concerned about a Russian invasion of its territory as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. NATO membership would boost the country’s security and defence capabilities.


  • Finlandization is the process by which a powerful country induces a smaller neighbouring country to desist from criticising the former’s foreign policy guidelines while retaining its ostensible independence and democratic structure. The phrase “to become like Finland” refers to the Soviet Union’s impact on Finnish politics during the Cold War.
  • The phrase is frequently seen as derogatory. It arose during the West German political debates of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
  • In Germany and other NATO nations, the phrase refers to a country’s determination not to oppose a more powerful neighbour in foreign policy while retaining national sovereignty.
  • It is most commonly used to refer to Finland’s policies toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but it can also refer to more general international relations, such as Denmark’s attitude toward Germany between 1871 and 1945, or the Swiss government’s policies toward Nazi Germany until the end of World War II.
  • Article 1 of the treaty states: “In the event that Finland or the Soviet Union through Finnish territory becomes the target of an armed assault by Germany or any state aligned with the latter (including, basically, the United States), Finland will fight to repel the attack.”

The policy of neutrality was established by the Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance signed by Finland and the Soviet Union in April 1948.


  • The pact prevented it from being attacked or absorbed by the USSR, as the Baltic and eastern European states had been. It enabled the country to pursue democracy and capitalism while remaining neutral in the battle between the big powers.

What is Russia’s stance on NATO?

  • In 2008, NATO offered Ukraine a path to membership. Following Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine made membership a top goal.
  • However, this has not occurred, owing mostly to Russia’s long-standing hostility.
  • Russia fears that NATO is encroaching on its political power by admitting new members from Eastern Europe, and that joining Ukraine would push NATO into its backyard.

What does Russia expect from NATO and the United States today?

Russia has proposed two draft accords in which it seeks specific, legally obligatory security assurances from the US and NATO:

  • The Draft urges on NATO to stop expanding eastward, explicitly denying future membership to ex-Soviet states like Ukraine. It would also prohibit the US from constructing bases in former Soviet nations or collaborating militarily with them.
  • It would prohibit both signatories from deploying military assets outside their national boundaries that “may be considered as a threat to the other party’s national security.”

NATO, from the standpoint of India:

  • There is no proposal for NATO membership. India has a long history of refusing to join any military alliance.
  • Given India’s history as a pioneer of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and its intentions to join the P5—the Permanent UN Security Council members—innovative solutions are required. The Government appears to have the inspiration, capacity, and chance to do so. India is a founding member of the BRICS as well as a member of the SCO since 2017, extending its non-aligned status.
  • The ongoing growth of India’s space and nuclear programmes demonstrates the country’s progress toward becoming a big power in a sensitive region of the world. Furthermore, India has been designated as a “nuclear power.”
  • An India-NATO discussion would simply entail frequent interaction with a military alliance, the majority of whose members are long-standing partners of India. If India is eager to lure a hesitant Russia into Indo-Pacific negotiations, it makes little sense to shun contact with NATO, which is now debating a role in Asia’s seas.


  • NATO nations have differing views on Russia, the Middle East, and China. Meanwhile, tensions between NATO countries, such as Greece and Turkey, have risen. NATO’s latest forays outside of Europe — in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya — have failed to impress.
  • NATO has not offered India membership, and India is not interested. The problem at hand is the prospect of finding common ground. Europe and NATO require partners like India, Australia, and Japan to play any role in the Indo-Pacific. In turn, India recognises that no single state can provide Indo-Pacific peace and security.
  • India’s excitement for the Quad reflects a realisation of the importance of coalition building.
  • China has long recognised Europe’s importance and has invested much in nurturing it. The ongoing refusal of Delhi to engage a major European institution such as NATO will be a striking example of strategic self-denial.

Way Forward:

A continuous discussion between India and NATO might foster fruitful contacts in a variety of areas, including terrorism, shifting geopolitics, the developing character of armed conflict, the role of emerging military technology, and new military doctrines.

On a bilateral level, each member has much to offer in terms of developing India’s national strengths.


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