Finland has joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as its 31st member, a historic move ending seven decades of military non-alignment, completing a whirlwind plunge into the alliance, and eliciting new threats from Russia. 

The Nordic country’s NATO accession roughly doubles the length of NATO’s border with Russia and strengthens its eastern flank as the Ukraine war continues to rage on.  

Amidst new threats from the Kremlin poised to take “countermeasures” for “tactical and strategic security,” NATO  and Finland celebrated the historic event.

Welcome to the alliance,” says NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg,  greeting Finland President Sauli Niinisto by his first name at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday. April 4th marks NATO’s 74th year, adding depth to the momentous occasion.  

Finland’s national anthem was proudly played while its flag was raised during the morning ceremonies.

We welcome Finland as the newest member of our alliance.  We raise the Finnish flag for the first time here at the NATO headquarters.  31 flags flying together as a symbol of our unity and solidarity.  NATO is a community united by our values,  freedom, democracy and the rule of law. We stand together,  we protect and defend each other. All for one and one for all. For almost 75 years, this great alliance has shielded our nations and has continued to do so today.  But war has returned to Europe, and Finland has decided to join NATO, and be part of the world’s most successful alliance. Finland is safer and NATO is stronger with Finland as an ally. Your forces are substantial and highly capable,  your resilience is second to none. And for many years,  troops from Finland and NATO countries have worked  side by side as partners. From today, we stand together as allies.”

A New Era Begins

President Niinisto responded to Stoltenberg’s address with gratitude,  calling him “dear Jens” and thanking the NATO Secretary-General for the alliance’s invitation and welcome to the organization.