“Our brewery and our hometown are only 50 km from the border with Russia, and naturally after their attack on Ukraine, you look at Russia so close with a new look,” said Petteri Vänttinen, Managing Director of ‘Olaf, in an email to the Washington Post. , adding that he hoped Finland would join the alliance and that membership would “continue peaceful times in our country and city.”
The brewery released the beer days before Finland and Sweden submitted their application to join NATO, an alliance of 30 countries originally formed in 1949 to counterbalance the power of the Soviet Union. Finnish membership would add 800 miles to the alliance’s border with Russia. Analysts say the offers from the two Nordic countries could further strain relations with Russia, which has opposed NATO expansion along its borders.
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For more than 70 years, Finland and Sweden remained non-aligned for their own reasons. But when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, sentiment changed among the countries’ leaders and citizens. According to a recent poll, 76% of Finns now support NATO membership.
Vänttinen said the popularity of his beer reflects this change. Since the release of NATO beer on Monday, “our sales email has been flooded with orders from Finland and abroad,” Vänttinen said. “We sell the [beer] in our bar in Savonlinna and people travel long distances to Finland to buy it. »
Vänttinen said he would continue to sell the lager “at least for the 2022 summer season”. In an interview with The Associated PressVänttinen describes NATO as having “a taste of security, with a hint of freedom”.
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Vänttinen said Savonlinna, where his brewery is located, has “always been on the border between east and west” due to its proximity to Russia’s western border and noted the invasion of Finland by the Soviet Union in 1939. “My 91-year-old grandmother still remembers that Savonlinna was bombed by the Russians during [World War II] So I know well the history of the city and the country at war not so long ago,” Vänttinen wrote.
“So we think joining NATO is a good decision and after good decisions it’s okay to have a beer, right?” he added.