It is now urgent that Finland and Sweden become members of NATO. Vladimir Putin is so limitless and erratic that anything can happen.
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Former Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev shocked the whole world with his statements this week that Russia wants to “build an open Eurasia – from Lisbon to Vladivostok”.
At the same time – anyone who has followed and listened to President Vladimir Putin for a long time – should have known that he had ambitions to restore what he saw as Russian greatness. Russia which is in turn a world power, regained its lost territories, regaining what Putin believes is the right place for Russians in the world.
You must hear what is being said
When I studied international politics in the United States a few years ago, I had the subject “Military Strategy and Politics”. Speaking of the terrorist group Al Qaeda, and their threats to the West, the professor dryly added: “When someone threatens to eliminate you and exterminate your group, they may already do so. It would be wise to listen to what is being said.” The professor was of Jewish origin.
We must listen to what is being said from the Russian side. We understood what it could actually mean. This does not mean we have to believe it will happen. But we must take that into account. And be prepared.
The Baltic states are ready. During the Cold War, the three Baltic states were part of the Soviet Union. As soon as the opportunity arose after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, they applied for membership in both the European Union and NATO. Despite the fact that the three countries are now members of both organizations, they are deeply concerned. They know very well what the Russians can do.
Finland also felt Russian brutality on her body. The Finns were attacked by the Soviet Union in the fall of 1939, and during World War II they ended up in brutal pressure, with enemies on all sides. After the war, Finland was forced to enter into the so-called friendship agreement with the communist regime in Moscow. For decades, the Finns had balanced well between the great powers, knowing that they were on their own.
The Swedes do not have the same harsh experiences of war as the Finns. That is why Finnish foreign policy has always taken a different seriousness. Sweden has lived a protected life, without war, for at least the past two hundred years. The Swedish state never withstood Hitler. The Swedes opted for continued neutrality in the ensuing years.
Now they are worried. More than foreign soldiers across the border, the Swedes fear other forms of interference, such as digital attacks. But not only this. Gotland is of strategic importance. If the Russians took control of the Swedish island, they would have chartered freely across the Baltic Sea. Sweden has greatly developed Gotland, both with soldiers and defensive equipment.
Swedes’ religious conditions
Sweden and Finland have worked closely with NATO for many years. But they are not protected by NATO’s security guarantees, the so-called Article V of the NATO Charter. Whoever says that an attack on a member state is an attack on everyone.
Sweden and Finland are now considering whether to apply for NATO membership. Finns are the most active. For Finland, it is about security policy. They have a historic opportunity to secure their long border with Russia. To become a full part of the Western alliance is a natural part of it.
For Swedes, the question is more difficult. They have a close religious relationship with the declared independence. Swedish neutrality is part of Swedish identity – who they are, how they see themselves and their role in the world.
Will it be recorded in June?
They may still consider that they can avoid being drawn into new wars – or that they will get outside help anyway if it really matters. They are somehow protected under NATO’s Article 5, though. But it is not. NATO does not risk a world war for a non-member country. The contract states that whoever will send his soldiers in the event of the death of another country, he also expects the other country to send his soldiers when needed.
The Swedes do not even agree on the procedure for joining NATO. Whether a three-quarters majority is required in the Swedish parliament, or whether it is in favor that more than half of the elected representatives agree to a fully negotiated agreement on membership.
There are many indications that Finland will submit an application before the summer. If Finland does, it is clear that Sweden will continue to resolve controversies and ambiguities, and will follow suit. In this case, the two countries could already be discussed at the NATO summit in June.
North and North Atlantic Region
If Sweden and Finland join, all five Nordic countries will be members. With all that is required for coordination and cooperation, whether in terms of intelligence, forces and military equipment.
The Nordic Defense Alliance has long been an option for many of Norway’s opponents of NATO. With Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland within NATO, the Nordic defense cooperation will be stronger than ever. The united North will be NATO in the North. Norway will be safer. And the North region will be safer.
There is a need now that our entire European security system has changed. Now that Putin has turned everything upside down.
Nobody dares to predict
Few think that Putin will attack any of the NATO countries. Nor the Baltic states. At least not now. NATO sent troops and equipment to member states bordering Russia. The United States, Canada and the United Kingdom in particular have made significant contributions. And, as usual, it is these three who carry the heaviest in the NATO context. Norway also sent soldiers to other countries neighboring Russia.
Putin knows that the risk of challenging NATO is too great. Right now, it doesn’t even look like Putin is able to control all of Ukraine, he said. But if Russia wins in Ukraine, and then rebuilds, no one would dare expect its continuation.
It is difficult to judge historical events as they occur. To understand how serious they are. Today, we don’t know if the threats made by Putin and other Russian leaders are hollow words. Are there noble aspirations that have no roots in reality? Or whether Vladimir Putin is as limitless as it seems now.
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