It has been almost ten years since the Finnish government last investigated its relations with NATO. During that time, some major political changes have occurred both on the international and the European level.
Don't make Russia cross!
A Finnish NATO membership would certainly trigger a fierce Russian response, says the study. The Finnish-Russian relations would be damaged beyond repair, whereas the Russian rejoinder most likely would be sharp and probably also "personal," which the incident involving the Russian fighter jet shot down by the Turkish air defense clearly showed, the authors write.
The investigators predict a vigorous initial reaction from Russia, a loud-mouthed opposition to NATO extension, accompanied by political and economic threats and followed by a quiet acceptance of the facts.
According to the study, Russia's war against Georgia and the takeover of Crimea has once again stressed the importance of the famous Article 5, which refers to the principle of collective defense. As NATO partners, neither Finland nor Sweden is covered by the mutual defense clause.
United we stand
Investigators proceed from the scenario in which Finland and Sweden seek NATO membership simultaneously. Other scenarios may incur various difficulties whereas by working together, the two Nordic countries may achieve a greater influence, be it in inside or outside NATO.
Parliamentary decision or referendum?
According to the study, an application for membership in the Atlantic Alliance would take place amongst international tension. Investigators take no stance on whether the issue should be solved through a referendum or a parliamentary decision.
Mutual benefits in store as long as no nukes are involved
According to the study, full-scale NATO membership would yield mutual benefits for the parts involved. Finland would hereby obtain a clearer picture of the air situation near Russia, whereas NATO would make use of Finland's territorial defense, which is considered superior to the Baltics'. In addition to the territorial defense, Finland's IT skills and cyber defense would be appreciated, as well as the country's special expertise in hybrid warfare, the study suggests.
Increased defense spending
Finally, a direct quote
"The NATO membership would obviously strengthen Finland's immediate security, as the country then would be subject to security guarantees under Article 5, with the membership strongly deterring possible attacks against the country. However, the membership is also likely to lead to a serious crisis with Russia for an indefinite period. Tensions would rise, but an open conflict is unlikely to ensue, since Russia would be aware that any assaults could lead to retaliation from the whole alliance."