At the end of last week a few politicians, who are both for and against NATO membership, criticized the Finnish Institute of International Affairs' (UPI) NATO report. First Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva took issue with the report's prediction of a negative Russian reaction in case Finland joins NATO.
[Kanerva] does not believe that Russia would object to Finland joining NATO. [UPI's report] speculates that Russia would be temporarily annoyed if Finland were to join the military alliance.
Kanerva said he is wary of the report's interpretation on the matter.
"I was surprised by the results of the NATO report. In my dealings with Russia, I have not once been told that membership would not be possible," Kanerva said.
It's worth noting that Kanerva argument isn't logical. Whether NATO membership is possible wasn't under question. To the contrary, the analysis (PDF) concerns a situation in which Finland chooses to join:
If Finland chose to join NATO, the political relations between the two countries would almost inevitably suffer to some degree, and some limited military remonstrations in the vicinity of the Finnish borders (which are now hard to specify) could occur. Officially, Russia might question whether threat scenarios had changed or why military non-alignment is no longer sufficient for Finland.
The effects, however, would hardly extend beyond the short-to-medium term and they would not necessarily be intensive but gradually disappear after accession.
Later, Social Democratic Party chair Eero Heinäluoma opined that the report downplayed EU's security guarantees.
Heinäluoma said that the [EU reform treaty] offers more steadfast defence to member states than Article V of the NATO charter. According to the article, member countries can determine what kind of assistance they will offer.
However under the EU reform treaty, EU states are committed to provide all available assistance to other member states. Heinäluoma suggested Finland look to Sweden as a model. He added that Sweden does not hesitate to assist other EU countries.
Where Heinäluoma compares the texts of the relevant treaties, the report, by contrast, considers their practical implementation:
In Europe, only NATO has the structural capacity to help member states through military assistance. This structural capacity includes standards on training, equipment, planning procedures, and the actual headquarters planning and intelligence capabilities that form the basic building blocks of a defence planning capacity. The European Union does not currently have any capacity to organize a collective defence of its membership and until a significant portion of "dual-members" take steps to create such a capacity, any military security guarantees it provides are largely theoretical.
The report may or may not be correct on these points, but Kanerva's and Heinäluoma's counterarguments miss their target.