Putin warned over next move as Finland helps secure NATO ring of steel

Nato secretary general welcomes ‘historic day’ for alliance as Finland prepares to join

Vladimir Putin has been warned that Finland will add major strength to the NATO alliance, helping to form a ring of steel in Europe. Tory MP Tobias Ellwood – Chair of the Defence Select Committee – said that Finland is “bringing far more to the table than offered by many current NATO members” He said they will be a “real boost” to the alliance as they have “specialist knowledge” of Russia.

Mr Ellwood also said that, while Sweden has not yet joined the alliance, Finland will help to form a ring of steel around the country.

The MP for Bournemouth East said the move is indicative of “how dangerous eastern Europe has become”.

Finland’s membership of NATO was confirmed earlier today, taking the alliance to 31 members.

Speaking about the development, Mr Ellwood told the Daily Express that Finland is “not just adding another number to the NATO family. They are bringing a real boost to the alliance.”

He explained: “They arguably have the best reservists in Europe. They are bringing far more to the table than offered by many current NATO members so this will be a real boost, not least with their specialist knowledge of Russia, with which they share a 1,000 mile border.

“So this is really welcome news. And the fact that they’ve come separately from Sweden – in a way if they couldn’t be done together its better that they join first because Sweden is protected.

“If you look at the map Sweden is now protected by NATO neighbours.

“Having trodden a very careful line of neutrality with Russia for so long, this just shows how dangerous eastern Europe has become.”

The MP for Bournemouth East added: “The irony is that, of course, Putin will be angered by this and will argue that this is why Russia invaded Ukraine in the first place, but it’s only because of Russian aggression that they can no longer remain neutral and need the protection of the alliance because they fear that they could be next.”

Finland formally became the 31st member at a ceremony at the military alliance’s Brussels headquarters earlier today.

The move effectively means that if Finland is attacked, all NATO members would come to its aid.

Sweden is also seeking to join the military alliance but objections from Turkey and Hungary have delayed the process.

The previously neutral countries signalled they wanted to come under NATO’s umbrella following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The move is a strategic and political blow to the Russian President, who has long raged at NATO’s expansion.

Rishi Sunak welcomed Finland becoming the newest member of the defence alliance.

The Prime Minister said: “This is an historic day for Finland and for NATO. Their accession has made our alliance stronger and every one of us safer.

“All NATO members now need to take the steps necessary to admit Sweden too, so we can stand together as one alliance to defend freedom in Europe and across the world.”

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who was at NATO’s headquarters, added: “Today we see, as a direct result of Vladimir Putin’s aggression and his illegal invasion of Ukraine, the day where a new ally joins our defensive alliance.

“Russia thought its aggression would divide us. Instead, we are bound tighter together, resolute in our defence of the principles of freedom and the rule of law.

“Let us be clear that our door remains open. We will welcome further allies with open arms and we continue to push for Sweden’s swift accession.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Let Finland be a lesson to President Putin. Finland chose to join, based on their own free will.

“The freedom to choose their alliances as a sovereign state is a matter for their citizens and their citizens alone.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the move would “make Finland safer and NATO stronger”.

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