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Finland begins construction of a border wall with Russia as it becomes NATO’s newest member

Since becoming the most recent state to join the military alliance NATO on the 4th of April this year, Finland has been carrying out construction of a 124-mile barbed wire fence along the Russian border.

The barrier is being built to improve border surveillance and stop Russian migrants entering Finland to flee military conscription.

The construction of a 3-metre barbed-wire border fence is symbolic of a new Europe in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine; one with a lot more tension and antagonism.

Finland's NATO membership marks the end of over 75 years of official neutrality and increases the NATO Russia border by 830 miles. Dr Patrick Bayer, a Reader in International Relations at Strathclyde University argues that Finland’s accession into the alliance has a lot of “symbolic value” and is an “important statement to Russia”.

Russia has certainly taken it that way and responded with a Kremlin spokesman labelling the move an “escalation” and the Russian ministry of defence warning of “retaliatory measures, both military, technical and otherwise”. While it is unclear what specific measures Russia would take, it marks a further escalation in tensions.

This move by Finland marks the latest expansion of NATO. Since the end of the Cold War the alliance has expanded to the majority of eastern European countries including the Baltic states and Poland. Many in Russia and Europe from across the political spectrum have argued this NATO expansion has made Russia feel threatened and is a factor behind its invasion of Ukraine.

Since the end of the cold war every member of the Warsaw Pact as well as three ex-Soviet Republics have joined NATO

However, many experts including Bayer argue that this is a convenient “story” for Russia and that NATO is a “useful organisation”. He argues that Russian aggression, such as in Ukraine, is more down to “domestic problems within Russia rather than the west”, such as economic deterioration and Putin trying to remain in power.

Other analysts argue that military alliance often acts in offensive ways that go far beyond just deterrence, and any state would see the expansion of such an alliance to its borders as a threat and potentially lash out - a situation seen between Russia and Finland. Examples often cited to highlight this offensive character are the NATO bombings of Serbia, invasion of Afghanistan and intervention in Libya, three countries which did not attack any NATO state.


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