On Tuesday, Finnish MPs will discuss how to handle a petition asking for a referendum on Nato membership, after a survey revealed a historic shift in the country’s stance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
An overnight Twitter post by Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that the next day’s scheduled parliamentary discussion will examine the situation in Ukraine and was not meant to be a “broader talk on Finland’s policy towards military alignment or non-alignment.”
In addition, she said that because a petition calling for a discussion in parliament had garnered the requisite 50,000 signatures, it “makes sense to hear the parties’ opinions on tackling the problem”.
“From this perspective, the issue will also figure in tomorrow’s parliamentary debate,” Marin said.
💬#Zakharova: We regard the Finnish government’s commitment to a military non-alignment policy as an important factor in ensuring security and stability in northern Europe.— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) February 25, 2022
☝️Finland’s accession to @NATO would have serious military and political repercussions. pic.twitter.com/eCY5oG23rL
The petition asking for a referendum on membership was started on Monday and met its goal of 50,000 signatures before the end of the week, which was the deadline.
Public broadcaster Yle conducted a survey on Monday, and the results showed that a majority of Finns now favor joining NATO, a historic shift from only a few months before. This discussion comes as a result of that poll.
A Yle-commissioned poll found that 53% of Finns were in favor of their nation joining the military alliance, 28% were against it, and 19% were unclear.
“A completely historic and exceptional result,” said Charly Salonius-Pasternak, a senior research fellow at Finnish Institute of International Affairs. “The change is dramatic.”
Between February 23 and 25, Yle polled 1,382 people between the ages of 18 and 80 for the poll.
In contrast, a survey conducted in January by the Helsingin Sanomat daily found that just 28% of respondents were in favor of Finland joining NATO, while 42% were against it.
Besides Russia’s strike on a neighboring nation that isn’t a Nato member, Salonius-Pasternak added, “the only big shift” has occurred.
However, despite the poll’s findings, the researcher predicted that support will likely continue at a greater level in the coming months.
Support for Nato membership stood at 34% when Yle conducted a comparable survey in 2017.
“Serious military and political consequences” might be expected if Finland joins Nato, Russia’s foreign ministry said in a tweet on Friday. The 1,340-mile border between Finland and Russia is the longest among EU countries.
Despite the fact that neither Sweden nor Norway is members of Nato, they are both Western military allies. With Moscow demanding that Nato not expand eastward, Helsinki and Stockholm have rejected Russian intervention in their security strategy.
Although the Social Democrats in power in both nations have no ambitions to join Nato, the alliance has assured them that the door is still open.
Alko, Finland’s state-owned alcohol distributor, removed Russian items off the shelves on Monday in protest to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Spokesman Anu Koskinen stated, “The situation in Ukraine is disturbing and we have taken it seriously,” announcing that both in-store and online sales will be halted.
Approximately 30 Russian goods – mostly vodka – would be affected by the new rule, which affects the company’s entire stock of 11,000 items.
Swedish alcoholic beverage monopoly Systembolaget has likewise stated that it would no longer sell Russian-made goods.