Finland and Sweden to Join NATO Amidst Russian Threats

Cristian Garcia, Editorial Writer

On February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine on the pretext to “denazify” the country. In reality, Russia wanted Ukraine to withdraw its attempt in joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, abbreviated NATO, as it would make Russia and Belarus surrounded by a European-North American military alliance. However, if Russia wanted to stop a country from joining NATO, it just made two neutral countries want to join, the Republic of Finland and the Kingdom of Sweden.

Despite not being members of the military alliances, Sweden and Finland have relations with the NATO alliance, as both have offered training camps to the military alliance. Using their neutral advantage, they have been sending military and humanitarian support to Ukraine, according to The Hill.

The international media has focused time on Ukraine’s invasion and on how NATO, the European Union (EU), and the United Nations (UN) have responded, which is not to intervene militarily but offer sanctuary to Ukrainian citizens, and sanctioning Russian goods. However, Sweden and Finland’s desire to join NATO has made the situation more complex and delicate. Due to these countries collaborating with NATO in the past, there should be strong military support with them in halting Russia’s delusions of being surrounded. If NATO fails to help the Scandinavian countries, then there’s no stopping Russia’s ambitious influence to dictate how the world should be governed.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finnish and Swedish citizens shifted from being neutral countries into considering the possibility of favoring a membership of NATO. According to Politico, surveys have concluded that in Finland, approximately 53% of citizens want their government to consider a NATO membership, a dramatic growth from 2017, in which 19% of citizens at the time advocated for it. Meanwhile, neighboring Sweden has also grown, with 66% of the population also wanting NATO membership.

Due to Finnish and Swedish public opinion dramatically shifting into favoring NATO membership, and now believing that neutrality may no longer be a balanced option, the Finnish government gathered into discussions about the possibility of joining NATO. “It is very understandable that many Finns have changed or are changing their minds after Russia started waging war on Ukraine,” Sanna Marin, the Prime Minister of Finland, said to Politico. “What is the line that Russia has crossed, and what is the line that Russia will not cross … And if Russia does cross some line, do we face it alone or together with others.”

Seeing how the invasion of Ukraine has affected these two Scandinavian countries, the Russian Foreign Ministry has threatened “political and military” consequences if Sweden and Finland join NATO. Amazingly, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto seems undaunted and unimpressed with the statement. “We don’t think that it calls for a military threat,” delivered by Russian Foreign Ministry Haavisto’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, said in an interview with the Finnish public broadcaster YLE, reported by ABC News. “Should Finland be NATO’s external border, it rather means that Russia would certainly take that into account in its own defense planning. I don’t see anything new as such.”

“It’s obvious that if Finland and Sweden join NATO, which is, first of all, a military organization, it will entail serious military-political consequences, which would require retaliatory steps by the Russian Federation,” Zakharova said at a news briefing. “We view Finland’s course for maintaining the policy of military non-alignment as an important factor contributing to stability and security in northern Europe and on the European continent as a whole.”

Meanwhile, in Sweden, ABC News also reported that Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson addressed Moscow’s statement in a joint news conference with military commander Micael Byden. “I want to be extremely clear. It is Sweden that itself and independently decides on our security policy line,” Andersson said.

Russia’s aggression has been affecting its image and relations worldwide. ABC News stated that international relations have been more severed since the Cold War era, which ended when the Soviet Union fell. And even more when it could be speculated that Putin may not be attacking Ukraine alone.

The Hill reported that during an address during his security council, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko (alias “The Last Dictator in Europe ”), an ally of Putin, showed a troop movement map that seems to indicate that Russia will invade Moldova. While it is speculation, there have been reported brief skirmishes at the border between Russian and Moldovian troops. There are also reports that Lukashenko is beginning to mobilize Belarussian troops to assist Russian forces in the invasion of Ukraine.

As of March, the Swedish and Finnish government hav/e only been discussing the possibility of joining NATO, but are officially still unaligned nations. However, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a timer began to tick. While alliances are complicated to understand, they have helped create cooperation with countries, specifically to stop threats that could be potential in risking a global conflict. So far, many countries, including Afghanistan, have shown support to Ukraine, but due to Ukraine being a nonaligned country, it’s support is limited. If Sweden and Finland want to join NATO for more support during these times of Russian aggression, NATO shouldn’t hesitate to do so, as the Swedish and Finnish population don’t seem to.