What can Finland offer to NATO?

Finland recently announced its intention to join the NATO alliance.

In a joint statement, Finland's President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that "Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay".

But what can Finland, which has previously opted to stay neutral and keep out of NATO for fear of antagonising Russia, offer to NATO?

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that Finland would be "welcomed with open arms to NATO" if the country did apply.

From a military perspective, Finland would offer a large boost to NATO's northern European assets, not only bringing enhanced capabilities but an increased deterrence in the region.

Finland's armed forces have already proven themselves highly compatible with NATO member states, frequently working with them on international missions and on exercises such as Exercise Arrow 22.

Dr Ben Wilkinson, the Deputy Director (Defence) at RAND Europe, said: "If Finland joins, I think it might rapidly become one of the most important powers in NATO because of the size of their armed forces.

"And the series of capabilities which NATO would find extremely useful," he added.

Finland's 800-mile border with Russia will more than double the length of the alliance's border with the country.

Watch: Why Finland wants to join NATO.

It is not just the size of Finland that deserves highlighting, though, with Sir Richard Shirreff, the Former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, lauding the capability of the Finnish armed forces'.

"The Finns practise uniquely, I think, a system of full territorial home defence, fully integrated.

"Every Finn does national service. The Finns have a massive reserve capability.

"They could put an army of 200,000 out in no time at all," the retired British Army General added.

Finland has just over 19,000 active personnel and 238,000 reserve personnel. 

Sir Richard also highlighted their investment in "seriously good equipment", "state of art aircraft, etc, etc, F-35s and the like".

IMAGE ID 2J80WJ2 Finnish President Sauli Niinisto shakes hands with Prime Minister Boris Johnson during meeting in Helsinki 11032022 CREDIT Xinhua, Alamy Stock Photo.jpg
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed a security pact on 11 May 2022 (Picture: Xinhua/Alamy Stock Photo).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's recently visited Helsinki, which saw the two countries sign a new security pact.

Finland is already a member of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a group of nations committed to upholding security in northern Europe.

This new security pact would see the UK go to Finland's aid, including with military support, in the event of an attack on the country.

Mr Johnson said the new accord was more than a "stop-gap" while the country deliberated over NATO membership, as well as an "enduring assurance between two nations".

We have compiled a forces firepower comparison between the UK and Finland here.

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