Northern expansion of NATO: why Sweden and Finland decided to join the Alliance

Northern expansion of NATO: why Sweden and Finland decided to join the Alliance

Finnish President Sauli Niiniste and Prime Minister Sanna Marin have officially announced their support for the country's accession to NATO. “Now that decision time is approaching, we also express our common position regarding parliamentary groups and parties. NATO membership would enhance Finland's security. As a NATO member, Finland will strengthen the entire defense alliance. Finland must urgently apply for NATO membership” , – said the President and Prime Minister of Finland. The governments of Finland and Sweden intend to apply on May 16 to join NATO.

The West is ready to defend Sweden and Finland

And in the coming days, the Swedes will have to take several steps to join the Alliance. On Friday, the analytical group, which includes all parliamentary parties, will present its report.

On May 11, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed mutual security guarantees with the leaders of Sweden and Finland, visiting both countries. “It is inconceivable that the UK would not come to the aid of Finland or Sweden if they were attacked,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in early May.

Why the two countries want to join NATO

< p>Previously, Sweden and Finland held a neutral status. But the war unleashed by Russia in Ukraine radically changed their positions. Moreover, Moscow began to gather troops to the border with Finland. And the first deputy permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, threatened that the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO could make these countries targets for possible strikes from Russia.

“They know that the moment when they become NATO members , will mean mirror actions on the part of Russia. If NATO units appear in these territories, these territories will become a target or a possible target for strike,” he said.

Vladimir Putin's actions have shattered a long-standing sense of stability in Northern Europe, leaving Sweden and Finland feeling vulnerable. Therefore, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto openly says that Russia's invasion of Ukraine “very changed the security landscape in Europe”, adding that it also changed public opinion about NATO membership. “For the first time, most Finns support NATO membership,” he said. The Finnish President and Prime Minister are convinced that NATO membership will strengthen Finland's security, and the country will strengthen the entire defense Alliance.

Commenting on the question of journalists about whether joining NATO would provoke Russia, Finnish President Sauli Niiniste said that only Putin himself could “blame” himself for this. “I would answer that it was you who caused this. Look in the mirror,” Niiniste said on May 11. Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist describes the day of the invasion of Ukraine as the moment when the Russian leader proved that he was “unpredictable, unreliable and ready to fight a tough, bloody and brutal war.”

“For Finns, the events in Ukraine also cause an obsessive feeling of closeness. The Soviets invaded Finland in late 1939. For more than three months, the Finnish army offered fierce resistance, despite a significant numerical superiority. They escaped occupation, but in the end they lost 10% of their territory,” the Air Force reminds.

Unlike Ukraine, the doors are open for these countries

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the intention Finland and Sweden to join the North Atlantic Alliance and predicted that it will go smoothly and quickly.

“There are no older partners closer to NATO than Finland and Sweden. If they decide to apply, they will be welcomed, and we will find a way to very quickly agree on a protocol on their acceptance,” Stoltenberg stressed.

This is explained by the fact that, by both democratic and military standards, these two countries fully comply with the criteria of the Alliance. Atlantic Council Director for Northern Europe Anna Weislander says that the armed forces of both countries also have high interoperability with NATO member states.

“They have been working with NATO since the mid-1990s on international missions in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Libya. They have also participated in advanced exercises with NATO such as Trident Juncture. And there were hundreds of other teachings. Therefore, their interoperability is not a problem,” says Weislander.

An important event along this path should be the NATO summit, which will be held in Madrid on 29-30 June. According to the world press, this is where the Alliance can formally approve applications from Finland and Sweden.

Reuters reports, citing sources in NATO, that the Alliance may approve the application of Finland and Sweden even before the end of June. It could take months for the 30 Alliance members to ratify Sweden and Finland's accession.

What will change

Sweden and Finland became official NATO partners in 1994 and have been major contributors to the Alliance ever since. They have taken part in several NATO missions since the end of the Cold War.

But the main major change will be the application of NATO's Article 5, which treats an attack on one member state as an attack on all. For the first time, Finland and Sweden will receive security guarantees from nuclear powers.

Expert's opinion

Oleg Zhdanov, international security expert:

– The Finns and the Swedes need Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which implies collective security. They will attack them, and all 30 members of the Alliance will fit on their side. Although they already have good and modern armies that meet all the requirements of the Block. Unlike Ukraine. Finland, for example, ranks first in the world in the fight against corruption. This is about political demands. And by military standards there is also full compatibility. So it is unlikely that anyone in NATO will delay their acceptance. And Putin will get the exact opposite of what he was striving for – two more NATO countries on his border.

Foreign press

Politico:

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly pointed to NATO encroachment on the borders of his country as the reason for the invasion of Ukraine. But if that was indeed his true goal, then Putin has suffered a resounding defeat. Not only have NATO countries deployed tens of thousands of troops closer to Russia's border in response to its invasion and agreed to send tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine, they are also now about to welcome Finland and Sweden as new members, bringing NATO much closer to Russia. ”.

BBC:

“Finland has taken its first step towards joining NATO, and Sweden may follow suit in a few days – a monumental shift for two countries with a long history of wartime neutrality and rejection of military alliances. If they do, it will end more than 200 years of Swedish non-alignment. Finland adopted neutrality after a bitter defeat by the Soviet Union in World War II.”

CNN:

“Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine backfired on a number of fronts. But one of the most disastrous consequences for the Russian president is the increasingly likely prospect of Finland joining NATO. At this point, it is highly likely that NATO will invite the country to talk about joining the Alliance. It is widely believed that this will happen very quickly, since Finland already meets most of the criteria, and it is unlikely that any NATO member will object.”

ON THE TOPIC

Turkey against /h2>

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country, which is a member of NATO, is against the entry of Sweden and Finland into the Alliance.

“We do not have a positive opinion on this matter. The Scandinavian countries are as a guest house for terrorist organizations,” Erdogan said, pointing out that Turkey could use its status as a member of the Alliance to veto the admission of the two countries. At the same time, the Turkish president was referring to members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, banned in Turkey, who found refuge in the Scandinavian countries.

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