Could Finland's NATO application be imminent?
Finland to decide to join NATO as early as May says Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb.
Public support and political momentum for Finland joining NATO have reached an all-time high, raising the very real possibility that the alliance's borders with Russia could be extended by more than 515 km miles in a matter of months.
Finland’s possible NATO entry would be the most significant change in Europe's security architecture in years.
By the end of this month, the Finnish government is expected to submit a report to parliament on the changing security environment, kicking off a debate and, eventually, a recommendation on applying for NATO membership.
According to a recent poll, 60 percent of Finns now support joining NATO, a 34-point increase from last fall and the highest level since polling on the issue began in 1998.
On his account, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said this week that if Sweden and Finland decide to apply for membership, "all 30 allies will welcome" them.
In an interview with Axios, Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb stated that "I think Finns at the moment are driven by what I call rational fear”.
"You have to balance between realism and idealism. Realism is that you have a strong standing military as we have, and idealism is to try to cooperate with a big neighbor," Stubb said.
He also said as quoted by Axios that the government could decide to join NATO as early as May.
Russia has repeatedly stated that it will respond if Finland becomes a NATO member.
Moscow has for months been warning of the threat posed against it by NATO's attempts to expand eastward, which happened simultaneously with an increase in NATO military activity along Russia's borders, and batches of lethal weapons being sent to Ukraine.
On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a special military operation in Donbass over the constant Ukrainian shelling of Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics, whose independence Moscow recognized a few days ahead of the operation.