By Clara Prander ’22
In regards to the current war between Ukraine and Russia, there has been some uncertainty whether or not Sweden and Finland should or will join NATO. They are the countries that are the closest to Russia, without a membership in NATO, and that Russia also has threatened to invade. With a membership in NATO they could be more secure since they would get support from other countries as well.
If you don’t know what NATO is, it is a national security alliance among the US, Canada and their European allies such as France, Italy, The United Kingdom and Denmark to name a few. It was formed in 1949 and their goal is to safeguard the Allies’ freedom and security by political and military means. In general terms the countries within NATO will all help each other if one of them gets into a war.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, the discussions in both Sweden and Finland about joining NATO have gotten extremely serious. The public opinion in both countries about joining the alliance has shifted significantly as Russia’s war in Ukraine wages on.
The Finish Prime minister Sanna Marin said that her country’s Parliament is set to discuss possible NATO membership “within the coming weeks” adding that she hopes these discussions will wrap up before midsummer. “ I think we will have very careful discussions, but we are also not taking any more time than we have to in this process, because the situation is, of course, very severe” she said. Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson did not rule out the possibility of membership in an interview with SVT at the end of March.
Sweden is undertaking an analysis of security policy that’s due to be completed by the end of May, and the government is expected to announce its position following that report, a Swedish official said. Their nation could make its position public sooner, depending on when neighboring Finland does it. The two nations are in close coordination with each other but they each will make their own independent decisions.
A finnish official said Friday that their country would not be seeking to join NATO out of “desperation” for defense from the 30-member alliance. Rather, Moscow’s actions in Ukraine have forced Finland “to rethink the fundamentals”.
But what would happen if either both or only one of the countries would join? Both countries have been threatened by Russia that if they decided to join there would be “serious military and political consequences”. The former president Dmitry Medvded recently also threatened a nuclear presence in the Baltics if Sweden and Finland move ahead with an application.
Nato will certainly be strengthened but Finland and Sweden’s inclusion. As well as galvanizing its eastern part with Finland’s well- regarded armed forces, the Swedish island of Gotland is seen as a strategic embankment. The alliance must also consider how it can protect its potential new members in the period between any possible application and accessions, which normally can take anything between four months and a year. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week that “ we will find ways to address concerns they may have regarding the period between the potential application, and the final ratification”. He also said that Sweden and Finland “can easily join this alliance if they decide to apply”.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has served as a turning point in many ways. Putin is finding that there are consequences for unprovoked aggression, intended and unintended. His distorted cause for war could result in the very thing he fears – an enlarged and focused NATO.