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Finland's accession to NATO has not made Russia more vulnerable – Russia threatens its neighbors, and not the other way around, experts say

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On April 4, Finland officially became the 31st member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), more than doubling the total length of Russia's land border with the alliance. Military experts told The Insider that Russia's defense strategy might change following the move, as the country perceives NATO expansion as a threat. Finland's decision, however, has only strengthened regional security, according to the experts.

Tuomas Forsberg, Director, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies:

“Russia will decide what changes will be needed, but Finland's decision is based on the idea that NATO would bring stability more than change. Russia's war in Ukraine and its proposals of new spheres of influence that would have concerned Finland, too, sparked the whole process. There is certainly no intention in Finland to challenge Russia on its territory but the aim is purely defensive. It is not just the official line, but you do not virtually anybody harbouring some kind of fantasies about that. Russia is a nuclear state and that in itself is a massive deterrent. So Russia should be confident that its vulnerabilities do not increase due to Finland's membership in NATO. Russia should think that it might be even good to have constructive member states in NATO that are willing to improve relations with Russia when Russia stops what is seen as its aggression of a peaceful and sovereign neighbour and returns to ideas of cooperative security.
The intended impact [of Finland's NATO membership] is stability. Finland's defence will be integrated into NATO's structures, but the starting point is still national defence and it is very unlikely that there would be any new NATO bases in Finland. Rather an intensified regional Nordic and Nordic-Baltic cooperation is easier when there are no institutional barriers for that.”

Lieutenant colonel Joakim Paasikivi, military strategy teacher at the Swedish Defense University:

“Russia has not become more vulnerable by Finland’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty, as NATO is a defensive alliance. The threat is posed by Russia to its neighbors, not the other way around.
Regardless of this, Russia has stated that it sees a threat from NATO and will act against it by deploying new units and more troops in our region. Of special concern for Russia are the nuclear missile submarines based on the Kola Peninsula, as they are an important part of Russia’s nuclear triad.
It is reasonable to believe that the Russian armed forces would very much like to increase their ground forces along the Finnish border, but hard to see how they could do so in the short term as those have been decimated in the unprovoked full scale invasion of Ukraine.
However, Russia could move their strategic bombers to bases closer to their western border, and possibly some of their strategic rocket troops.
Increased Russian activity in the Arctic region is also probable.
The security of the Baltic Sea and Arctic regions will increase, as the predictability of the response to any aggression from Russia towards the other countries (except Sweden, for the time being) will be greater when they are part of NATO and the common defence. The very competent Finnish defence forces will be an asset to the Alliance, both at home or where needed and decided. Finland will now sit at the NATO table and have an equal voice with the other Allies.
Hopefully, Sweden will be able to join NATO in the near future. Until then, Sweden’s security will increase by Finland’s accession, but will also be a probable subject for actions from Russia to influence the public opinion in Sweden, and its international standing in order to prevent accession.”

Major general Pekka Toveri (retd.), former Director of Finnish Defense Intelligence:

“Finland joining Nato is a strategic-level failure for Russia. The military situation both in the Baltic Sea area and in Northern Europe´s Arctic areas has changed very unfavourably for Russia, and in case of conflict between Russia and NATO, Russia´s capability to protect St. Petersburg and the Kola Peninsula areas are much weakened. Russia would need to increase its forces in the area considerably, but it has no such forces available for years. Therefore, the security situation in the Baltic Sea Region and in the Arctic probably will be more balanced and secure. Russia will probably avoid any confrontations in areas where it has a clear disadvantage.
Finland has a very capable Defence Force which [will] get even more capable in the coming years. NATO’s North-Eastern flank is much more secure, and our membership will also improve the security of the Baltic states. [Finland’s accession to NATO] will stabilize the security situation in the region.”

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