May 16, 2022

NATO Expansion

“Finland's President Sauli Niinisto confirmed on Sunday that his country would apply for membership of the NATO military alliance… Sweden is also expected to follow suit as public support for membership has grown amid security concerns.” Reuters

Both sides support Finland and Sweden joining NATO:

“Whether NATO enlargement contributes to European security has been hotly debated ever since the end of the Cold War. Even some strong supporters of NATO have argued that enlargement would be too provocative toward Russia. And, indeed, it was concern about Moscow’s reaction that stymied Ukraine’s efforts to join the alliance over the past 15 years…

“Yet, it wasn’t Kyiv’s desire to join NATO that led Russia to go to war against Ukraine. Rather, it was NATO’s absence from Ukraine that enabled it to invade. Had Ukraine been in NATO, Russia would have had to go to war against the entire alliance, including the United States. That is the lesson Stockholm and Helsinki — and NATO — have now drawn… Bringing in both countries will only further strengthen an alliance that is now well into its eighth decade of successfully underwriting Europe’s security.”

Ivo Daalder, Politico

“Finland and Sweden already closely cooperate with NATO but eschewed formal membership, a stance that worked both politically and strategically. But Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine changed everything…

“In January 2022, less than 30 percent of the Finnish public was in favor of NATO membership. After Russia’s invasion, it rose 53 percent, to an incredible 76 percent in May… [In Sweden] Support for joining NATO has jumped by double digits since January to about 57 percent… This is a dramatic turn for two countries that have defined their geopolitical identities around nonalignment — Finland, for decades, and Sweden for two centuries.”

Jen Kirby, Vox

“Unlike some recent additions to NATO like Montenegro and North Macedonia, Finland and Sweden bring enormous geographic advantages and military capabilities to the alliance… When fully mobilized, the Finns can put an army of 285,000 into the field, including some 1,500 artillery pieces—more than the United Kingdom, France, and Germany put together…

“Finland also brings a determination to contribute and not be a free rider. They were the only nation to repay their World War I war debt to the United States (in full), a fact that impressed even former President Trump… Finally, as the United States and the West think about strategic competition with China, having Nokia and Ericsson, two of the world’s most important providers of telephone network systems, inside the NATO tent offers advantages for preventing Huawei and ZTE from totally dominating global 5G infrastructure.”

Eric S. Edelman, The Bulwark

“For reasons of geography alone (and they have more to contribute than that), they will bolster the defense of NATO’s exposed Baltic flank. As things currently stand, the Baltic states are linked to Poland, and thus the rest of NATO, by a narrow corridor (near the Polish city of Suwalki) that separates Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave from Moscow’s Belarusian client-state. Should Russia seal that ‘Suwalki gap,’ the Balts would, for most practical purposes, be on their own…

“Bringing Finland, just a few miles across the Baltic Sea from Estonia, into the alliance would go a long way to reducing the danger that Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia could be cut off from their allies… Should Sweden follow Finland’s lead, the risk of the Baltic states’ being left isolated would drop still further, not least because of the way that Swedish territorial waters, and the strategically placed island of Gotland, which lies roughly between Sweden and Latvia, could then be open to NATO.”

The Editors, National Review

“There is no doubt that Finland joining NATO would be a major blow to Putin. Not only would it mean those extra 800 miles of shared border with the alliance, but symbolically it would go further in uniting the anti-Putin coalition that has emerged since the invasion of Ukraine. Countries that were once neutral are now providing funding and arms to Ukraine and Putin is an international pariah with fewer allies by the day…

“It would also expand NATO's influence in northern Europe all the way up to the Arctic, an area that is becoming increasingly important geopolitically due to its natural resources, strategic location and numerous territorial claims… there's little doubt that Putin's gambit to decrease NATO'S influence in Europe has backfired, spectacularly.”

Luke McGee, CNN

“This development demonstrates precisely how badly Putin’s strategy has backfired on him, but it also puts us in a rather tense chapter of the ongoing story. Keep in mind that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov previously said that there would be ‘serious military and political consequences’ if either Finland or Sweden joined NATO. I think we’re past the point of anyone worrying about additional ‘political consequences’ because we’re already in the midst of a global economic war with Russia…

“So what about the military consequences? Russia has already embarrassed itself on the global stage by managing to become bogged down and at risk of potentially losing a war that almost everyone expected would be over in a matter of days. It’s no longer even clear if they’ll be able to hold on to the territory they previously claimed in the eastern regions of Ukraine. Are they really going to try to launch a land war against all of Europe as well as the United States and Canada? That idea, which once sounded ominous and frightening, now seems almost laughable.”

Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

See past issues

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.