Photo Credit: FinnishGovernment
By Hezekiah Crawford
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted Sweden and Finland to reconsider their national security and foreign policy priorities. In the past few days, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish Prime Minster Sanna Marin have publicly stated that a decision regarding NATO accession tops this list of priorities. Nordic states have historically remained neutral during international conflict, but the proximity and volatility of the war in Ukraine have begun to shift sentiments, with Finnish and Swedish leaders pledging to react swiftly to the changing global landscape.
Their Nordic neighbor Norway is a founding member of NATO, although it has refused to permit “NATO bases and nuclear weapons on their territories.” Their membership within the alliance guarantees them protection under NATO’s Article 5, however, which states that “an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies.” Unlike Norway, neither Sweden nor Finland—the latter of which shares a border with Russia—enjoys such a protection clause.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg recently expressed that if Finland were to seek NATO membership, they would be “warmly welcome.” In addition to the fact that Sweden and Finland are currently in compliance with many of the political and economic requirements for NATO accession, NATO is eager to expand its list of partners on its eastern flank. When combined, these factors indicate that accession of the remaining Nordic countries could likely be carried out with relative expediency.
Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, claimed that if Finland and Sweden were to join NATO, Russia would retaliate in order to “rebalance the scales.” What this means exactly is unclear, although it likely alludes to the reinforcement of Russia’s western front and further diplomatic recalcitrance.
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