Finland and Sweden aim to join NATO and encourage Russia’s anger

Helsinki-Finland and Sweden will formally apply for NATO later this month in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The two countries say Moscow’s actions have changed the dynamics of Europe’s security, and the Kremlin’s nuclear threat requires collective self-defense that NATO can provide.

Finnish lawmakers are discussing joining the alliance after a major security report was released earlier this month. The decision is expected in the next few days.

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“It’s clear that everything has changed since Russia started the war in Ukraine,” Finland’s Minister of State for Europe Titti Tuplanen told VOA. “We now have to make our own decisions according to our national interests. What is the best way to ensure the security of Finns and Finland? We are in the West Part of it, and now it turns out that this NATO membership is a kind of final decision in our Western integration. “

Tuppurainen said parliamentary debate over the submission of a formal application is very advanced.

“It seems very likely that we are calling for membership in the NATO alliance … we are repeatedly said to be welcome, and we believe so. We have a large army in Finland. We have. Our defense is very strong. “”

Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party will announce its decision to apply for NATO on May 15. Both countries are considering submitting a joint bid.

public opinion

For decades, even during the Cold War, Scandinavian countries planned a cautious course of neutrality and non-alignment as the US alliance NATO and Russia fought for hegemony in Europe.

File-Members of the Swedish Army drive an infantry fighting vehicle as part of a military exercise called “Cold Response 2022”, about 30,000 from Finland and Sweden in addition to NATO members during the invasion of Ukraine in Russia’s Setermoen. Gathered an army of people.

Politicians are now led by public opinion and have seen dramatic changes in the months following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

At the end of last year, only a quarter of Finland’s population supported NATO membership. A recent poll by the Finnish broadcaster YLE, released Monday, shows that 76% support participation in the alliance.

Residents of Helsinki who spoke to the VOA said it was a necessary step to ensure the security of the country. “We can’t live with such unpredictable neighbors like we used to, so NATO is the only option we ultimately get as a security solution,” said 56-year-old Helsinki resident. Pekka Luhta said.

Sanna Allt, who also lives in the Finnish capital, agrees. “By geographic facts, we are the only non-NATO neighbor that has not been invaded by Russia. [in recent history].. So I think we almost know why we should participate. I don’t really trust Russia. “

Welcome to NATO

NATO has revealed that Finland and Sweden will probably be warmly welcomed as members within the coming months. “If they decide to apply, Finland and Sweden are warmly welcomed and hope that the process will proceed quickly,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stortenberg said in Brussels on April 28. Told to.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltemberg spoke at a media conference after the NATO Foreign Ministers' meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on April 7, 2022.NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltemberg spoke at a media conference after the NATO Foreign Ministers' meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on April 7, 2022.

NATO plans a permanent military presence at the border, the report said.

The Nordic countries are both members of the European Union. Their army regularly participates in NATO military exercises and is proficient in Arctic warfare. They will greatly enhance the alliance capacity of the Baltic Sea and Northern Europe, where Russia maintains a large military presence.

“In the future, it will be a substantial group of Nordic countries within the alliance. This makes sense. The second is military power and know-how. Therefore, we are modern and capable. I think it has defensive power. [force] Brigadier General Sami Nurmi, head of policy at the Finnish Ministry of Defense, told VOA: “Our policy was to try to build a relationship with Russia. Trust and understanding of each other’s actions and we have now lost it.”

Nurmi said Russia’s actions have completely changed the security situation in the region.

“They have shown to European sovereign states that they are ready to use it, and this is worried about Finland, which has a 1,300-kilometer border. [with Russia]”He added.

Kremlin reaction

Russia threatens a so-called “military technical response”, such as deploying nuclear weapons in Russia’s Kaliningrad outpost when Finland and Sweden join NATO. But such a nuclear threat may have backfired, says Charlie Salonius-Pastelnack, a security analyst at the Finnish Institute for International Affairs.

“We’re talking about this threat in a way that wasn’t really seen during the Cold War. This is a concern. It’s one of the reasons Finnish political elites frankly said that Finnish defense might be strong. But you can never build a strong nuclear deterrent. The only way to do that is to join NATO. “

Putin’s miscalculation

Before invading Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that NATO withdraw its troops in Eastern Europe. Instead, the alliance appears to be set up to accept new members.

“Russia even said that deepening cooperation with NATO, or simply between Sweden and Finland, would be a red line,” said Salonius Pasternak. “Therefore, a radical change in the way these two countries’ security and defense policies are now considered in the coming months must be seen as yet another strategic failure by Putin.” Finland and Sweden aim to join NATO and encourage Russia’s anger

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