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Finland’s impact on NATO

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As Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine changes the security landscape in Europe, what does Finland’s membership of NATO mean for the country itself? And what does it bring to the Alliance?

Synopsis

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, against the backdrop of its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, changed the security landscape in Europe and acted as a catalyst for Finland’s accession to NATO. After 30 years of close partnership with NATO, Finland joined the Alliance as a new member in April 2023.

With its geographic proximity to Russia, Finland shares a 1,300-km border with Russia and has a history of facing Russian aggression. Russia’s unprovoked and brutal full-scale war on Ukraine got Finland to rethink its defence strategy, and abandon its policy of military non-alignment. While Finland now benefits from the protection of NATO membership and the collective defence clause (“one for all, all for one”) under Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty (also called the Washington Treaty), Finland’s membership also strengthens NATO’s collective deterrence and defence and the security of the Euro-Atlantic area.

Despite having a small population of 5.5 million, Finland has an impressive wartime strength of 280,000 military personnel, and that is due to its comprehensive conscription service. The country also counts on strong artillery capabilities, a fleet of modern fighter jets, powerful mine hunting capabilities at sea and much more.

Finland is also situated in a potentially vulnerable area, including both the High North and the Baltic Sea, regions of high strategic importance. In this video, we look at what NATO membership means for Finland, and how the country contributes to the security of our Alliance.

Transcript

TRANSCRIPT (AUDIO AND TEXT ON SCREEN)

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
Colonel Janne Mäkitalo, Commandant of the Army Academy

“The main features of the Finnish people and the Finnish Armed Forces, you could describe it by saying ‘sisu’, which is mental resilience and readiness to cope with harsh conditions and still you are able to continue.

“We say that ‘Ketju on yhtä vahva kuin sen heikoin lenkki’. And that means that ‘the chain is as strong as its weakest link’. So we want to make sure that our chain is very durable.”

--TEXT ON SCREEN—
FINLAND’S IMPACT
ON NATO

--VOICEOVER—
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine not only changed the security landscape in Europe, it also acted as a catalyst for Finland’s accession to NATO, membership which was confirmed in April 2023.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
Major General Kari Nisula, Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations)

“We decided to join because we saw that the membership would increase our security for this new environment that we foresee. That’s the very basic, simple reason.”

--VOICEOVER—
But from a military and geographic standpoint, what does NATO membership mean for the country itself? And what does Finland bring to the NATO alliance?

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
Major General Kari Nisula, Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations)

“We share the same neighbour than the Ukrainians. It means that also we can provide some experience and expertise about how the Russians, they are behaving in our neighbourhood.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
Colonel Jukka Nurmi, Deputy Chief of Training, Defence Command Finland

“We have a 1,300 kilometres-long eastern border with Russia. That is something we have to always keep in mind. Even as a member of NATO, Finland is responsible for defending its own country.”

--VOICEOVER—
Finland’s membership of NATO effectively doubled the size of the border between NATO Allies and Russia. And that border requires monitoring at all times.

--SOUNDBITE (FINNISH W/ ENGLISH SUBS)—
Janne Manninen, Finnish Border Guard

“We’re at the Salla border guard area and we’re inspecting the border between Finland and Russia. I work as a dog handler. The dog will indicate if someone has crossed the border and will locate the track.”

--VOICEOVER—
Well-equipped and with military training, the Finnish Border Guard operates under the Ministry of Interior. However, if a crisis was to occur here, they could be integrated into the Finnish Defence Forces, and could therefore be the first line of defence.

--SOUNDBITE (FINNISH W/ ENGLISH SUBS)—
Janne Manninen, Finnish Border Guard

For me it is really important that the border is monitored. I find it important. We are in independent Finland, so that’s why. I want Finland to remain independent in the future.”

--VOICEOVER—
And while there is no immediate threat on the border, this proximity to Russia is what prompted Finland to abandon their neutral status and join the Alliance, but membership in this region works both ways.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
Major General Kari Nisula, Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations)

“If you think about our location in High North region and also the Baltic Sea region, both areas with significant strategic value and we are one of the stakeholders in this area, so it is important.”

--VOICEOVER—
Finland has a population of just 5.5 million. However, the wartime strength of its armed forces is a substantial 280,000. And the reason for that is its comprehensive conscription service.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
Colonel Janne Mäkitalo, Commandant of the Army Academy

“Conscription is the core of our system. It’s a glue, which combines the whole Finnish nation. Everybody has been living in a tent with other Finnish guys. Everybody has been taking part in these exercises, having field rations, getting cold, getting wet and fighting together.”

--VOICEOVER—
According to the Finnish constitution, every citizen is obligated to take part in national defence. All men between 18 and 60 must complete military service and women can participate on a voluntary basis.

--SOUNDBITE (FINNISH W/ ENGLISH SUBS)—
Lance Corporal Salla Teirfolk, Medic, Finnish Army

“Military service was always my dream. I’ve dreamt about it since I was a little child. My grandfather told me stories about his own experiences in the Finnish military. It made me feel that I wanted to do it myself too. I have a will to defend my country. I want to be a part of it.”

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
Colonel Jukka Nurmi, Deputy Chief of Training, Defence Command Finland

“We have seen the increasing number in willingness to defend the country, after the war started in Ukraine. The numbers were high already before but now all the people, men and women, are more willing to do something for his or her country.”

--VOICEOVER—
Finland also has one of the largest artillery capabilities in Europe with an arsenal of approximately 1,500 weapons.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
Colonel Janne Mäkitalo, Commandant of the Army Academy

“We have a modern system of far-reaching joint fires, but the main essence of our defence system and extra value for NATO is our capabilities to fight a long-lasting warfare in deep, deep forest area. Finnish joining to NATO increases the safety and security in Europe and especially in the Baltic Sea region.”

--VOICEOVER—
With Finland’s location as one of the nations bordering the Baltic Sea, and with the Gulf of Finland an important hub for trade and transport, Finland’s navy needs to perform a variety of roles.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
Major General Kari Nisula, Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations)

“The Navy’s main tasks include surveillance of our territorial waters and repelling maritime attacks and territorial violations, if any. And of course the navy is taking care of our vital sea lines of communication and protecting those.”

--VOICEOVER—
As well as these primary functions, the Finnish Navy performs multiple tasks related to the protection and defence of the surrounding waters. This mine countermeasures ship is responsible for detecting, identifying and neutralising underwater explosive threats, like sea mines.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
Lieutenant Senior Grade Henri Savisaari, Commanding Officer MHC Vahterpää

“Previous wars have proven that the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland is very easily mineable. We’re talking about shallow waters, rocky bottoms, very hard sound profile. Conditions are very hard for mine hunting. And that’s what we’re good at and that is something that we can bring to the NATO Allies.”

--VOICEOVER—
As well as protecting the Finnish coastline from the sea, it is also protected from the air. And the backbone of the Finnish Air Force is its fleet of 62 F/A-18 Hornet jet fighters.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
Lieutenant Colonel Jaakko Salomäki ‘Averell’, Chief of Operations, Lapland Air Command

“We need to be ready 24/7 for the identification missions mainly at the Gulf of Finland and Baltic Sea, so that’s how we do it. That includes air surveillance, which means the recognised air picture which the Finnish Air Force is providing for all the services in the Finnish Defence Forces.”

--VOICEOVER—
The Finnish Air Force has long trained and operated alongside international partners but since Finland’s accession into NATO, that cooperation has been stepped up as they integrate into Allied air defence strategy.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
Lieutenant Colonel Jaakko Salomäki ‘Averell’, Chief of Operations, Lapland Air Command

“It’s about doing the same thing in the same way to be effective together. And that is important, that we can really work together closely, sharing the tactics and the knowledge. Behind that is the wartime capability for air operations.”

--VOICEOVER—
And with the F/A-18s set to be replaced with 64 powerful F-35 fighter aircraft starting in 2026, Allied air defences in the region will become even stronger and more integrated than they already are.

--VOICEOVER—
Finland’s defence forces are woven into the fabric of its society.

--SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)—
Colonel Jukka Nurmi, Deputy Chief of Training, Defence Command Finland

“It’s all about geography, it’s about history, it’s about population, how we think we can survive here. It’s everything, I would say, in the Finnish defence solution.”

--VOICEOVER—
Bringing this comprehensive approach to NATO strengthens the Alliance in vulnerable regions such as the High North and the Baltic Sea, and reinforces the principle of collective defence on NATO’s eastern flank. For Finland, joining the Alliance means they are protected under Article 5. An attack on one is an attack on all.

### END ###
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NATO922788
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2112