Vladimir Putin had hoped that a quick and brutal invasion of Ukraine would squash NATO’s attempts to expand the defence alliance close to Russia’s borders. However, these efforts appear to have badly backfired on the Russian leader. Not only has Ukraine’s resistance drastically slowed down and rolled back Russia’s invasion plan, but now Finland and Sweden are planning to swiftly join the NATO bloc.
When asked on Fox News whether Finland wants to join NATO in light of the Ukrainian invasion, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö responded: “Well, we have a changed situation both in Finland and Sweden.
“For the first time, we see a majority of people are pro-NATO according to the polls.
“This is something we are open to discussing with our parliament.
“We try to define all the circumstances, all the risks and all the benefits, and doing that quite efficiently, as soon as possible.”
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Finland, which shares a huge land border with Russia, has been used in recent days by Russians trying to flee the country in the wake of the war.
Russians escaping into Finland are fearful of Putin’s crackdown on the Russian people in wake of the war in Ukraine.
Mr Niinistö told Fox News that President Putin appears to have changed in recent years.
The Finnish President has met with the Russian leader more than nearly any other current world leader.
Following the invasion, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry explicitly warned Finland and Sweden any move towards NATO membership could have military consequences.
This Russian threat appears to have sparked an even stronger desire among Finns and Swedes to join NATO.
In Finland, a recent poll from broadcaster YLE this week found that 53 percent of citizens were in favour of the country joining NATO while about 28 percent were against it.
The level of support for joining NATO went up to 66 percent if Sweden were to join too.
Similarly in Sweden, a poll from broadcaster SVT found that 41 percent of the public supported NATO membership while 35 percent opposed it.
Matti Pesu, from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, said the Russian invasion into Ukraine has seen “the situation completely change” in Finland.