Finland wants to join NATO. Why are you considering membership?


Sweden is still weighing its chances of joining NATO, while its neighbor Finland has already announced its firm support for accession in the face of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine and continuing military aggression.

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

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson toured the two countries on Wednesday. Formalized Bilateral Security Agreement Whirlwind for 24 hours. As part of the new deal, Johnson said the government would give the country “anything it asks for”.

Here are a few issues that have made the Nordics reconsider joining the 30-country alliance:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) and Finnish President Sauli Ninisto hold a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland.

FRANK AUGSTEIN via Getty Images

Military Alliance is the acronym for NATO.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed in 1949 to prevent a resurgence of nationalism and militarism in Europe after two world wars, and to deter Soviet expansion.

Member States grew to 30 and expanded further east in the 1990s and 2000s to include the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

They agree to mutual defense (military action) in response to an enemy attack. The principle is: “An attack on one ally is considered an attack on all allies.” This is Article 5 of the NATO Constitution.

European NATO member states
European NATO member states

PA Graphics via PA Graphics/Press Association Images

Ukraine not a NATO member, this is the main reason why Western support for Volodymyr Zelenskyy fails to deploy troops on the ground. Ukraine’s accession to NATO was an explicit goal that dates back to the 2002 Constitution, but the President of Ukraine acknowledged that it is currently unavailable.

NATO’s expansion was Putin’s biggest public complaint against the West while he was preparing for war, insisting on expansion to the East and potentially swept away other former Soviet republics’ biggest negotiating promises.

Adding Sweden and Finland could also spark Putin’s outrage. Moscow is warning Nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles could be deployed in the Kaliningrad region on Russia’s Baltic coast, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

NATO will not allow restrictions on the countries it recognizes and has always maintained an “open door policy”.

What about Finland and Sweden?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed Finland and Sweden to the brink of NATO membership, which would end the two European countries’ firm military neutrality.

Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometer (810-mile) border with Russia, announced on Thursday it would approve an application for NATO membership.

In a joint statement, President Sauli Ninisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin noted that “NATO member states will strengthen Finland’s security”.

They added that there are still a few steps left before the country becomes an official member of the alliance, but they will apply “without delay” over the next several days.

Neighboring Sweden is expected to announce a decision in the near future.

The alliance and the White House were confident that all security issues could be tentatively resolved, but any application would result in a tense wait for months for all NATO members to ratify.

Although the two countries have been militarily non-aligned since World War II, they are moving towards their present position in response to increasingly belligerent Russia.

Finland and Sweden switched from formal neutrality to a military non-alignment upon joining the European Union (EU) in 1995.

What is ‘Finnishization’?

Finland gained independence from Russia in 1917 and fought twice with Russia during World War II, losing some territory to Moscow.

Finland signed a Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance with Russia in 1948, cementing some degree of economic and political dependence and militarily isolated from Western Europe. This strict neutrality policy is called “Finnishization”.

The end of the Cold War that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union allowed Finland to emerge from the shadow of Russia, reducing the threat from Moscow.

Russia has relied on its own military deterrence and friendly relations with Moscow to maintain peace. However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine destroyed the perception that relations with Russia were ‘friendly’.

Opinion polls show support for Finland’s membership is high and people have in mind the long border it shares with Russia. Congressional support for the application is also broad.

Sweden’s post-Cold War cuts

Sweden has not been at war in 200 years and its post-war foreign policy has focused on international democracy, multilateral dialogue and support for nuclear disarmament.

Weakened military power after the Cold War, reducing defense spending from up to 4% of GDP to about 1% in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Despite Putin’s offensive, many on the left in Sweden are questioning NATO and the US’ security agenda, which ultimately depend on the deterrent provided by US nuclear weapons.

Surveys show that a significant percentage of Swedes have rejoined NATO. Recent polls show approval ratings at just over 60%, with a majority in Congress in favor of the application.

When were they able to join?

Finland has a NATO “option”, a sort of action plan that will make it mandatory in case the security situation worsens, and the Swedish parliament is due to announce a new security policy review on Friday, but the latter will not contain explicit recommendations for NATO. expected. .

Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats convened a parliamentary debate on NATO on Monday. If a political party rejoins as expected, the government can request a vote on sending it through an application, but it is not officially required.

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