Finland and Sweden heading for NATO

“With the invasion of Ukraine, Putin achieved the unthinkable: two European countries that had remained neutral since the Cold War seek military solidarity in the face of the threat.” / Reference photo: AFP.

Photo: AFP Agency

With the imminent application of Finland and Sweden to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, seems to have achieved the opposite effect to that desired with the invasion of Ukraine: two European countries that since the War Fria had remained neutral, seeking the military solidarity of other countries in the face of the threat that looms from Moscow. Despite the fact that the majority of the citizens of both nations preferred to stay out of the problems with Russia, since 2014, after the annexation of Crimea, they began to change that perception and are ready to enter the Atlantic Alliance.

It is expected that at the beginning of next week, simultaneously, the request for accession will be formalized and its process will begin. Since it may take a year, some European nations are seeking to ensure immediate support in case one of the two countries comes under attack. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited both capitals and signed an immediate support agreement with their heads of state and government in the event of a military action. Additionally, and given that both countries belong to the European Union, in accordance with the Lisbon Treaty, there may also be immediate military cooperation if such a circumstance arises.

In the case of Finland, which shares a 1,300 km border with Russia, its president, Sauli Niinistö, and the prime minister, Sanna Marin, want to apply for NATO membership “as soon as possible”. Next Monday the Parliament will meet to analyze the issue and it is taken for granted that the measure will be approved by a majority. Today, reversing the figure from a few years ago, 76% of Finns approve of membership. Since joining the European Union in the early 1990s, Finland has considered itself not a neutral country, but rather a non-aligned country militarily. From now on the situation will be different and, once the entry is formalized, the border of the European countries with Russia will grow, which is currently 1,200 km, including Poland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

It is not surprising, given Putin’s pugnacity, that from Moscow they have said that, given the certainty of this “radical turn” by Finland, they will be forced to “adopt response measures of a technical-military and other nature , with the aim of stopping threats to its national security (…). Helsinki must be aware of the responsibility and the consequences of this measure.” Within the traditional discourse on security issues, the words that come from Moscow ceased to be considered as mere rhetoric after the invasion of Ukraine and rightly come to be considered as a serious threat against the Nordic country. Clearly, President Niinistö told Putin that if he wanted to see the reason for the decision, he should look in the mirror.

Sweden, which had followed a similar path to Finland in staying away from NATO-Russia friction, decided to change its security policy since Crimea eight years ago. The country is expected to make a decision tomorrow, Sunday, and will surely announce jointly with its neighbor the request to join the transatlantic bloc. The Swedes, at the end of last year, approved only 25% of the eventual entry. Last month the figure was close to 60%, with the Social Democratic Party in the lead. Next Tuesday, during President Niinistö’s visit to Stockholm, the announcement could be made together with Social Democratic Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

With this scenario, it is clear that the Russian autocrat has failed in his initial claims. He did not manage to conquer Ukraine, he has strengthened a NATO that was in frank decline and now he has achieved the unthinkable: that two of the countries that remained on the sidelines of military security problems become part of the Alliance.

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