HELSINKI — In a move that is certain to further irritate Moscow, Finland’s new center-right coalition has included the option of applying for NATO membership “at any time” in its government formation Joint Policy Position statement.
Moreover, in an unprecedented initiative, Prime Minister-elect Juha Sipilä’s administration is set to draft a foreign and security policy that will include a special segment to calculate the potential monetary costs and implications of full Finnish membership in NATO.
The Kremlin has expressed growing consternation over the deepening relationship between Finland, Sweden and NATO.
That Finland will retain the option to apply for NATO membership during the government’s four-year term has somewhat surprised the Kremlin, which believed that the inclusion of the nationalist and traditionally anti-NATO Finns Party in the new coalition would cool interest in joining the Western alliance.
However, the Finns constitute the junior partner in the government, which also includes the robustly pro-NATO National Coalition Party (NCP). The Center and the NCP will be the key players dictating defense and security policy going forward.