- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
On February 24, 2022 Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine, aiming to liberate the Donbass region where the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk had been living under regular attacks from Kiev's forces.

Finns' Support for NATO Membership Reaches Record High Amid Russia's Special Op in Ukraine

NATO flag - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.03.2022
Despite the recent spike of NATO support among the general public, Finnish politicians are pursuing a more guarded approach, with President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin declining to voice their opinion whether they are for or against NATO; Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen openly ventured that now is not the right time to join.
A record 62 percent of Finns have said they would favour their country applying for NATO membership in a new poll by national broadcaster Yle, suggesting growing support.
The result represents a 9-percent jump from the last poll, held at the end of February, which marked the first time a majority of respondents supported NATO.
By contrast, only 16 percent opposed joining NATO, down from 28 percent in the previous poll.
Remarkably, a NATO application from neighbouring Sweden, a fellow non-aligned nation, would increase the proportion in favour to an overwhelming 77 percent, while a positive stance from Finland's political leadership would increase the support to 74 percent.
Before Russia's special operation to demilitarise Ukraine, which Finland, as part of the West. portrays as an “invasion” despite Moscow repeatedly stressing it harbours no occupation plans, Finnish support for NATO has stood at less than half of those surveyed for decades.
Yle last asked the question in 2017, when just 21 percent were in favour of the alliance.
Despite the obvious explosion of NATO support among the public, Finnish politicians have been far more cautious. Both President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin declined to voice their opinion whether they are for or against joining NATO, whereas Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen openly ventured that now is not the right time to join. Furthermore, a poll of MPs found a majority unwilling to reveal their stance.
As of now, the Finnish Defence Ministry is preparing a report on the pros and cons of NATO membership, with parliament expected to form a view on the matter after that.
By contrast, former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who headed the alliance from 2009 to 2014, ventured that it would be in Finland's and Sweden's “self-interest” to use the “window of opportunity” and enter the alliance right now.

“NATO is prepared to welcome both Finland and Sweden. I would say an application from Finland and Sweden could be approved more or less overnight,” Fogh Rasmussen said, as quoted by Yle.

Earlier, two citizens' initiative to join NATO reached the required number of signatures in less than a week, under the pretext of the formally non-aligned Nordic country lacking security guarantees. Whereas the first endeavour was a legislative initiative, the second one was a straightforward requirement.
Russia warned that there will be “political and military consequences” if Sweden and Finland, both non-aligned for historic reasons, although drawn closer to NATO in recent years through joint drills and overseas operations, join the North Atlantic alliance.
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