Provocation ahead of NATO vote: Russian Mi-17 violates Finnish airspace

Provocation ahead of NATO vote: Russian Mi-17 violates Finnish airspace

Provocation before NATO vote
Russian Mi-17 violates Finnish airspace

Finland and Sweden decide in a few days whether to join NATO. It would be a strategic defeat for the Kremlin. A typical increase in border violations fits the precarious position: Helsinki has just reported a Russian military helicopter in its airspace.

A Russian military helicopter has violated the Scandinavian country’s airspace, amid discussions of Finland joining NATO. A Defense Ministry spokesman in Helsinki said that according to preliminary findings, the Mi-17 helicopter entered four to five kilometers of airspace in the afternoon. In early April, transport aircraft of the Russian army briefly entered Finnish airspace. Finland and Russia share a border that is more than 1,300 kilometers long.

Like Sweden, Finland is also currently discussing joining NATO. Public opinion has changed significantly since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Most of the population and members of parliament are now in favor of joining the Western Military Alliance. President Souli Niinisto wants to express his opinion officially on 12 May. Russia has repeatedly warned both countries against the move and has announced nuclear upgrades in the Baltic in response. Just days earlier, a Russian military plane briefly violated Swedish and Danish airspace.

“Admission must be processed as soon as possible”

Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that in the event of an application for membership – either alone or with a Swedish neighbor – the accession process should be completed “as quickly as possible”. According to Finnish media reports, the decision of the government can be taken in a few days. In Sweden, the government and parliament are expected to present a security policy concept on 13 May, outlining views on NATO membership.

Finland and Sweden can count on the full support of their Nordic partners when it comes to accession, the heads of government of Denmark, Norway and Iceland confirmed after a mini-summit in Copenhagen. “It’s your decision and your decision,” said Mette Fredriksson, Denmark’s prime minister and host of the summit. “But rest assured: if you decide to join, you will have the full support of Denmark.” Someone will support it “with all their heart”.

Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store made a similar statement, saying that everything would be done to ensure that the accession process goes quickly and smoothly. Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir also said: “We support the decisions of Finland and Sweden which they will make.”

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