Finland wants to join NATO. Why is he considering membership?

Sweden is still weighing the prospect of NATO membership as its neighbor Finland has already announced that it is strongly in favor of membership in the face of Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine and its aggression current military.

Joining the US-led military alliance would mark a radical break in the politics of the two northeastern European countries, underscoring once again how Vladimir Putin’s aggression reshaped the post-Cold War order. .

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson toured the two countries and formalized bilateral security agreements during a whirlwind 24 hours. Johnson said his government would give countries “everything requested” under the new pact.

Here are some of the issues that have led the Nordic countries to rethink their entry into the 30-nation alliance.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland.

FRANK AUGSTEIN via Getty Images

The military alliance bears the acronym of NATO.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in 1949 to prevent a resurgence of nationalism and militarism in Europe after two world wars and to discourage the expansion of the Soviet Union.

Its membership grew to 30 member countries, and during the 1990s and 2000s its enlargement extended further east to include the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

They agree on mutual defense – military action – in response to an enemy attack. The principle is as follows: “An attack against an ally is considered an attack against all allies.” It is article 5 of the NATO constitution.

NATO member countries in Europe
NATO member countries in Europe

PA Graphics via PA Graphics/Press Association Images

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, which is the main reason why Western support for Volodymyr Zelenskyy failed to send its troops into the field. Ukraine’s admission to NATO had been a stated goal since its constitution in 2002, but Ukraine’s president has accepted that his country cannot join for the time being.

NATO enlargement was Putin’s greatest publicly stated grievance against the West during the war build-up, claiming eastward expansion and potentially sweeping aside the others’ greatest promises. former Soviet republics.

The addition of Sweden and Finland also risks angering Putin. Moscow has warned it could deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles to Russia’s Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad – sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania – if they do.

NATO has been adamant that it will not agree to limits on the nations it admits and has always maintained an ‘open door policy’.

What is the position of Finland and Sweden?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed Finland and Sweden to the verge of applying for NATO membership, a move that would end the military neutrality of the two European nations.

Finland, which shares a 1,300 km (810 mile) border with Russia, announced on Thursday that it was in favor of applying for NATO membership.

In a joint statement, the country’s President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin stressed that “NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security”.

They added that they would apply “without delay” in the coming days, although there are still a few steps before the country officially becomes a member of the alliance.

Neighboring Sweden is expected to announce its decision in the coming days.

Any bid will entail a tense wait for the months needed to be ratified by all NATO members, although the alliance and the White House have said they are confident any security issues can be resolved in the meantime. .

The two countries have been militarily unaligned since World War II, but have moved closer to their current position in response to an increasingly belligerent Russia.

Finland and Sweden moved from formal neutrality to military non-alignment in 1995 when they joined the European Union, and both have moved closer to NATO in recent years, exchanging intelligence and participating in exercises of covenant.

What is “Finlandization”?

Finland gained independence from Russia in 1917 and fought two wars against it during World War II, where it lost territory to Moscow.

Finland signed an agreement of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance with Russia in 1948, cementing a certain economic and political dependence and isolating it militarily from Western Europe. The strict policy of neutrality is called “Finlandization”.

The end of the Cold War, resulting in the breakup of the Soviet Union, allowed Finland to step out of Russia’s shadow as the threat from Moscow diminished.

He relied on his own military deterrence and friendly relations with Moscow to keep the peace. But with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the perception of relations with Russia as “friendly” has been shaken.

Opinion polls show support for membership in Finland is high, with people aware of the long land border it shares with Russia. Support in parliament for a candidacy is also broad.

Post-Cold War cuts in Sweden

Sweden has not fought a war for 200 years and post-war foreign policy has focused on supporting democracy internationally, multilateral dialogue and nuclear disarmament.

It downsized its military after the Cold War, cutting defense spending from 4% of its GDP to around 1% in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Despite Putin’s offensive, many left-wing Swedes remain suspicious of the US and NATO security agenda, which ultimately relies on the deterrence provided by the US nuclear arsenal.

Polls show a substantial majority of Swedes joining NATO, with support just over 60% in the latest poll, and there is a majority in parliament in favor of a bid.

When could they join?

Finland has a NATO ‘option’, a kind of action plan which obliges to apply if the security situation deteriorates, while the Swedish parliament will present a new review of the security policy on Friday, even if the latter does not should not contain an explicit recommendation regarding NATO. .

Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats convened a parliamentary debate on NATO on Monday. If the party returns as planned, the government could call a vote on whether to send a candidacy, but it is not formally required to do so.


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