On April 4, Finland officially became the 31st member of NATO, as a result, the total length of Russia's land border with the countries of the North Atlantic Alliance has more than doubled. Military experts told The Insider that Russia's defense strategy may change as the country perceives NATO expansion as a threat, but Finland's decision only strengthened regional security.
Tuomas Forsberg, head of the research group at the University of Helsinki:
“Russia will decide for itself what changes in defense strategy it needs, but Finland's decision to join NATO is based on the idea that this will bring more stability. This whole process was provoked by Russia's war in Ukraine and Russian statements about new spheres of influence, which should have touched Finland as well. Finland, of course, has no intention of challenging Russia on its territory, the goal is purely defensive. This is not only the official line, practically no one has fantasies about this. Russia is a nuclear state, and that in itself is a powerful deterrent.
Russia must be sure that it will not become more vulnerable due to Finnish membership in NATO and that it may even be good to have constructive members in NATO who are ready to improve relations with Russia when it stops what is seen as aggression against a peaceful and sovereign neighbor, and return to the ideas of security.
Finland's NATO membership will bring stability to regional security. Finland's defense will be integrated into NATO structures, but national defense remains the starting point. It is very unlikely that any new NATO bases will appear in Finland, on the contrary, the intensification of regional northern and northern Baltic cooperation will be easier if there are no institutional barriers to this.”
Lieutenant Colonel Joakim Paasikivi, Lecturer in Military Strategy at the Swedish Defense University:
“Russia has not become more vulnerable because of Finland's accession to NATO, since it is a defensive alliance. The threat comes from Russia to its neighbors, not the other way around. Despite this, the Russian Federation said it sees a threat from NATO and will act against it by deploying new units and more troops in the region. The nuclear-powered guided missile submarines based on the Kola Peninsula are of particular concern to Russia, as they are an important part of Russia's nuclear triad.
There is reason to believe that the Russian armed forces would very much like to increase the number of ground troops along the Finnish border, but it is difficult to see how they can do this in the short term, since these forces were destroyed in an unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine. However, Russia may move its strategic bombers and possibly some of its strategic missile forces to bases closer to the western border. Russia's increased activity in the Arctic region is also likely.
Security in the Baltic Sea and Arctic regions will increase as the predictability of a response to any aggression from Russia against other countries (except Sweden for the moment) will be higher when they become part of NATO and common defense. A competent Finnish defense force will be useful to the Alliance both at home and where it is needed. Now Finland will sit at the NATO table and have an equal voice with other allies.
We hope that Sweden will also be able to join NATO in the near future, and until then Sweden's security will be enhanced by Finland joining the Alliance. But Sweden will also become a likely target for Russian action to influence public opinion and the country's international status in order to prevent NATO entry.