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MP: Finland NATO accession would radically change Estonian security

Leo Kunnas (EKRE).
Leo Kunnas (EKRE). Source: Urmet Kook

If Estonia's northern neighbor, Finland, were to join NATO, that development would be of key importance to Estonia's defensive position and would alter the picture both at sea and in the air, Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) MP and reserve Lieutenant Colonel in the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Leo Kunnas says.

"Finland joining with NATO would impact our situation decisively," Kunnas told ERR.

"This would be a major strategic event for us. In terms of air and naval warfare, the picture would get much better," Kunnas added.

A Finnish accession to NATO would, Kunnas added, provide a new perspective for maintaining and strengthening maritime connections with the allies, in a situation where the Baltic land connection lies under threat, due to the Suwalki corridor, also known as the Suwalki gap, a 65-km stretch of border between Poland and Lithuania sandwiched between the Russian Federation exclave of Kaliningrad and Russia's ally, Belarus.

Closing the gap would cut off the Baltic States from any land connection with the rest of the EU.

"This would only be needed across the Gulf of Finland, and Finland has a considerable fleet. The allies' chances of maintaining this maritime connection would be much better," he said.

Kunnas noted that Finnish membership of NATO would also have a significant impact on alliance airspace.

"If Finland were to become a member of NATO, the Finnish air force would be able to support us, in effect immediately. This would radically change the picture of the whole air war, since the options for air support for us will be decisively improved. Both the Finnish air force and the allies can do this; they can also bring these to the territory of Finland, "said Kunnas.

While in the long-term perspective Finnish membership of NATO would substantially boost the Baltic States, this would be particularly important for Estonia's security perspective, though according to Kunnas, in the immediate term it might leader to greater incidents of provocation by the Russian Federation inside the Baltic States.

"It is difficult for Russia to take action against Finland, but this may increase the likelihood that it might try to provoke something in the Baltics. This need not be directly military, but it is also within Russia's capacity to provoke a minor armed internal conflict," Kunnas said.

"In that situation, we must be prepared for provocations in our direction," he added.

Finnish evening paper Iltalehti wrote on Thursday (link in Finnish) that the country is preparing to apply for NATO membership, and may start the process of application at the end of this month.

While Finland pursued a policy of neutrality throughout the Soviet era – and the country lost vast swathes of territory to the Soviets after World War Two – calls to join and a swing in public opinion to viewing membership more favorably than ever before have grown since Russia's invasion of Ukraine starting late February.

Joining NATO would more than double the alliance's European member states' borders with Russia, to over 2,500 km and extend the northern flank (Norway, which also borders the Russian Federation, is a NATO member; Sweden is not, though calls for that country to also join the alliance have been growing recently.)

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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