Seven decades after the Second world war, Finland was building a delicate relationship with first the Soviet Union and then Russia. The basic principle from Helsinki, according to the magazine Politico, was the caution and circumspection. The main thing — not to provoke the «sleeping bear» on the Eastern border. But now, it seems, someone in Finland about the prudence decided to forget. And, made it public man, good friend with Russia, a former Finnish Ambassador to Russia Hannu Himanen, which was held in Moscow for four years and returned home last year. The retired diplomat believes that Finland needs to stop being afraid to provoke Russia and proposes in his book «the West or the East: Finland, and the return of geopolitics», how to do it – to join NATO.
Of course, Himanen is not alone in the quest to become a member of the Alliance. The President in Finland is not a wedding General, as in many other countries. He, along with Parliament in charge of foreign and defense policy of the country. 28 January 2018 in Finland’s presidential election, the first after the annexation of Crimea to Russia. They are attended by seven people. One of them, Nils Torvalds, leader of the Swedish peoples party (SFP), openly calls for the accession to NATO.
«In any discussion of Finland’s foreign policy, he said, must present the issue of NATO membership. If we don’t discuss it now, we’ll be ready in the future.»
The neighbors of Finland expressed strong concern about the fact that their region could be the next place of conflict with Russia. In response to Moscow’s actions (at least, so say in Stockholm), Sweden, the closest military ally of Finland, just as it is not part of NATO, has strengthened the defenses of the island of Gotland and held in September, major joint exercises with NATO forces.
Finland in recent years also significantly increased their defense budget. The money is needed in order to maintain the proper level is huge for such a state army. Its population is 280 thousand people. In the country, by the way, there is universal conscription.
In 1991, after the Soviet collapse, Finland has turned to the West and joined the European Union. In the nineties was actively discussed and the membership in NATO, but this idea has been decided to refuse, because then it was believed that the cold war in Europe, ushering in an era of security. Now the supporters of joining NATO want to take a chance: the idea of NATO membership, they revived themselves in the period of bad relations between Moscow and the West over a quarter of a century.
Much of this question seems to depend on neighboring Sweden. Despite the fact that among the presidential candidates, only one openly advocates the accession of Finland to NATO, many in the country although not advocate abandoning the policy of neutrality, but say they are ready to vote for joining the Alliance, if that makes Stockholm.
Grounds for concern in Moscow yet, says Politico. Most Finns still oppose joining the Alliance. At the beginning of 2017, supporters of annexation were less than 25% of voters. However, after the outbreak of civil war in the South-East of Ukraine sharply increased the number of the Finns, still undecided on its position on this issue.
Politico does not exclude the possibility that the talks on accession to NATO may be a smokescreen, aimed to obtain at least one trump card against the neighbor to the East.