Finland formally joined the North Atlantic Treaty on Tuesday, more than doubling the length of the confederation’s border with Russia and warning of “such measures” by Moscow.
“Finland is stronger and safer in partnership, and the partnership with Finland is stronger and safer than all of its own,” Antonius Blinken said at the ceremony in Brussels from the secretaries of state.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has emphasized his country’s desire to promote stability in Europe. Finland and Sweden began preparing to join NATO – and provide military aid – within weeks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago. Sweden approves.
“The period of nonalignment in our history is ending – a new one is beginning,” Niinistö said. The country’s blue and white flag was raised outside NATO headquarters as the alliance marked its 74th anniversary as its 31st member.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted his congratulations to Finland, adding that he “only guarantees effective security in the region amid Russian aggression.”
►A Russian court ordered Darya Trepova, 26, for two months pending an investigation into the death of pro-Kremlin military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky. Tatarsky died on the 40th in a restaurant bomb blast that wounded 30. Russian authorities say Trepova’s Ukrainian handlers had her bomb Tatarsky in a free picture.
► Russian businessman Artyom Uss, who made a daring escape from arrest in Italy, where he was nabbed on a US warrant for violating Western sanctions, has surfaced in Russia. Uss, the son of the leader of Russia’s Krasnoyarsk region, said he fled because Italian courts were under pressure from the US to extradite him.
PREVIOUS RENOVATIONS:Finland accepts Turkey’s signature to join NATO
Russian military, Wagner mercenaries remain at odds: US official
Russian military leaders and Wagner, their mercenary allies, have been arguing over the direction of the war in Ukraine, according to a senior defense official. This is after Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin recently got that his military would provide enough ammunition for thousands of soldiers.
The battle line in Ukraine remained largely stable, with heavy exchanges of artillery fire between the US and Russia blowing up western Ukrainian forces. There has been no significant movement in recent weeks, said an official who briefed reporters Tuesday on conditions set by the Pentagon.
The battle between Russian commanders comes as Ukraine prepares for an expected counteroffensive and the US released another $2.5 billion in military aid. The official also said the Pentagon has trained about 4,000 Ukrainian troops into separate brigades that will operate Stryker and Bradley armored personnel carriers. The US Abrams tank exercise sent to Ukraine has not yet taken place, the official said.
The Pentagon also has commercial trucks designed to carry 30mm guns that can launch Iranian drones, which Russia bought from Iran, the official said.
-Tom Vanden Brook
The US will provide Ukraine with another $2.5 billion in military aid
The U.S. will send Ukraine about $500 million in munitions and equipment and will have more than $2 billion to send defense equipment, radar and other weapons in the future, Blinken said in a statement. The package includes more ammunition for the US-supplied HIMARS — lighter, more cruise missiles — air defense interceptors, artillery, anti-weapon systems, small arms, heavy vehicle transport equipment, and maintenance support “to bolster Ukraine’s defenders in battle,” Blinken said. .
“This new security assistance will allow Ukraine to continue to defend itself vigorously against Russia’s reckless and unjust war,” Blinken said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement warning that Finland’s membership in NATO would have a “negative impact” on relations between the two neighbors, who share a border of more than 800 miles. Russia “will be forced to take retaliatory military-technical and other measures” to stop the perceived threat, the statement said. The details of those steps depend on the conditions of Finland’s integration into NATO, the statement said.
“We agreed that this historic, reckless step was taken by the authorities of this country without taking into account public opinion, organizing a referendum and a careful analysis of the consequences of NATO membership,” it said.
WHAT ARE WE BORN? History, facts, members and why it was created
Finland’s move to join NATO was triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. Terrified by the invasion, the long-term neutral country, which is due to join in May, along with neighboring Sweden, is seeking protection under the umbrella of the security regime.
The country shares a 832-mile border with Russia. Finland’s entry into NATO serves as a major blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has long complained about the alliance’s expansion toward Russia.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg They highlighted the strategic benefits of Finland’s entry in a statement on Monday, saying the country would “bring a substantial military presence – trained, equipped and also with a large conscripted army.” Finland’s entry into NATO also “more than doubles the size of the alliance’s border with Russia,” Stoltenberg said.
Turkey has the latest rate; Sweden was still waiting
Turkey, the last country to confirm Finland’s NATO membership, on Tuesday sent official documents to Blinken, clearing the final hurdle for the country’s entry.
Meanwhile, Sweden, which also applied for NATO membership with Finland in May, is still expected to receive Stoltenberg’s approval in the coming weeks. Sweden has yet to fully implement new counter-terrorism legislation from Turkey, which will come into effect on June 1.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Sweden of “open arms” to the PKK and other terrorist groups classified by Turkey.
“I am completely confident that Sweden will become a member,” Stoltenberg said, adding that Finland’s ratification was the fastest in NATO’s modern history. “It has become a priority for me to do it as soon as possible.”
NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance between two North American countries – the US and Canada – and 28 European countries. It was founded in 1949 after the end of World War II.
By signing the pact, NATO nations agreed that an attack on one ally would be considered an attack on all.
Contributing: The Associated Press