Lithuania is safer because of this decision by Finland,“ the Foreign Minister said on Thursday.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Thursday expressed support for the country's accession to NATO. A joint statement by the President and the Prime Minister, published on the Presidency's website, stressed that „NATO membership would strengthen Finland's security“.
„By becoming a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance. Therefore, Finland should apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national steps that are still needed to take this decision will be taken swiftly in the next few days,“ it adds.
The statement also said that Parliament and the public should have been given time to express their position on the issue.
Asked whether additional NATO forces might be needed in Finland in such a case, as has been done in other Baltic countries, the Minister said that it was difficult to say at the moment.
„Already recently, NATO military planners have been assessing Finland's capabilities, which, as I said, are significant in our region. This is a reinforcement of NATO, and the question is whether further additional capabilities are needed. The only aspect that needs to be answered is that Finland has an extremely long border with Russia, which is now the longest border we have. Whether this requires additional capacity is difficult to say, and we will probably hear about that a little later.
It should probably be added that, in any case, there will now be a legal process that will go to Brussels and then to the capitals. I want to assure you that the ruling majority, and I hope the Lithuanian Seimas as a whole, will not take one minute longer than necessary to approve Finland's request,“ Landsbergis said.
According to the Minister, practically all NATO partners support Finland's decision.
„There have been some statements by individual politicians, but as far as we are in contact with the governments, there is no contradiction“, Landsbergis said.
Asked what kind of reaction Russia could expect in this case, he stressed that any decisions and assessments should be taken seriously.
„Russia's reactions so far are mainly rhetorical. We have seen some movement of defence forces in the northern region of Russia, apparently also in preparation for possible Finnish decisions. Again, I always stress that Russia is an aggressive and dangerous country for all its neighbours, and the war in Ukraine is perhaps the best demonstration of this. <...>
An aggressive state can sometimes make certain decisions without even calculating its resources, without assessing its real chances of winning a battle or a war. That is why we take this seriously“, the Minister said.
President Gitanas Nausėda said on Thursday that Finland's path to NATO should not face any major obstacles.
„I have repeatedly stated that we have a positive attitude towards the possible application of Finland and Sweden to join NATO. <...> Whether those procedures will be sorted out in the near future – I think that is the aim – in time for the NATO summit, which will take place soon.
It is difficult to answer for all NATO members regarding the possible decision, but I repeat that all the countries of our region, the absolute majority of our partners, are very positive about this prospect, this decision, and I think that there should not be any major obstacles,“ G.Nausėda emphasised.
Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė also congratulated the Finns on their „historic day“ and said that she looked forward to the same decision by Sweden.
„I very much welcome the position of the Finnish leaders to join NATO. Finland's accession would significantly strengthen both the alliance and the security of the Baltic States. So today, I welcome this historic, wonderful day and look forward to Sweden's decision,“ the prime minister commented to BNS.
A. Anušauskas: Russia got the opposite result than it expected
For his part, Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas explained that Russia's military position would be further weakened if Finland joined NATO.
„First of all, the alliance is doubling the length of its border with Russia – 1,300 kilometres in addition to 1,200 kilometres. <...> I think that Putin got what he wanted, which is the extension of the border with NATO countries.
On the other hand, NATO will undoubtedly have to redesign and rework some of its plans as it takes responsibility. It should not be forgotten that the military structure is based on planning. This will undoubtedly be a plus for the security of the region because, with the involvement of these countries, and Finland in particular, Russia's position is weakening militarily, and they are well aware of this.
Any demonstrative action that they are trying to do now is just that – demonstrative action. In fact, Russia's continued aggressive rhetoric and policy and aggressive actions have had exactly the opposite result,“ Anušauskas said.
He added that after Finland becomes a NATO member, the Kaliningrad region will become even more like a corridor.
„If Russian military planners are not just working according to political orders, as in the case of Ukraine, but actually see the situation, in reality, they will see that Kaliningrad is not defended in such a case and will be completely blocked,“ Anušauskas explained.
Laurynas Kasčiūnas, Chairman of the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence (NSDK), also said that Lithuania would be more protected if Finland joined NATO.
„Undoubtedly, this is also very strategically important for Lithuania because we will become more defensible, we will strengthen our regional security, we will have more strategic depth,“ the MP told BNS on Thursday.
„One of the plus points in terms of our security,“ he added.
The politician said Finland's decision was the „best answer“ to Russia, which is seeking to block NATO's expansion in the region.
Finland's neighbour Sweden is also considering joining NATO because of Russia's show of aggression.