A report commissioned by the Finnish government has strongly advised against the country’s membership in the NATO military alliance, saying such a move would negatively affect ties with Sweden and Russia.
“Finland joining NATO with Sweden staying out would create a strategically awkward situation, leaving Finland as a strategic outpost without territorial contiguity with NATO,” said the strategic analysis released on Friday.
The report, which was complied upon an order by Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila, further said a decision to join NATO could draw “strong” and “even harsh” reactions, adding, “Even while stopping short of the use of force, specific counter-measures would be difficult to predict.”
Sipila said “with Sweden, we have promised not to surprise each other in these matters.”
Swedish politicians have been floating the country’s potential membership in the US-led alliance.
The Finnish analysis, meanwhile, warned, that NATO membership could also have a negative impact on ties with Russia, which is viewed as an “aggressor” by the Western military alliance.
“The membership would probably also lead to a serious crisis with Russia, for an undefined period of time,” it stressed.
Russia has been wary of the alliance’s military buildup close to its border. It has been mirroring the heightened NATO activity in its backyard by staging domestic military maneuvers and flying its aircraft close to US destroyers in the Baltic Sea.
The Kremlin has recurrently warned that Sweden’s potential accession to NATO would entail retaliatory measures by Moscow.
Most recently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, “If military infrastructure draws close to Russian borders we will naturally take the necessary technical-military measure.”
Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border with Russia and has managed to maintain peaceful relations with Moscow.
The bilateral ties sustained the animosity between Moscow and the West during the Cold War and resurgent antagonism between the two, dubbed by some as another Cold War.
Relations between Russia and the West have been strained since Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea re-joined the Russian Federation following a referendum back in March 2014.
The ties soured further after Ukraine launched military operations in April 2014 to silence pro-Russian forces in the country’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.