Geopolitical observers are a tempted lot today. Increasingly, they would want to call the NATO membership applications from Finland and Sweden resounding kicks in Putin’s butt. But, the autocrat is kicking back with his brand of fabricated lies. The two Scandinavian unitary states, Finland and Sweden, have always been strong votaries of non-alignment. If they have finally decided to discard their non-alignment cloaks, there must be compelling push-factors behind their moves.
Crying NATO Wolf
Sure, the May 15th decision of the duo is purely driven by their desire for enhanced self-security. Balanced nations tend to place security way above political hate. As is their wont, Finland and Sweden are not driven so much by their hatred for Putin’s methods as they are by their need for security.
Putin the Aggressor-in-Chief does not think so. Used to dishing out dictatorial bombasts and launching ill-conceived military aggressions, Putin unusually appears to be jittery at the prospect of two NATO nations reaching his doorsteps. He is thus howling “NATO Wolf” in shrill tones. But, the world knows his howls are ignorable distractions. Reason why no one is reacting seriously.
The Urge to Apply
Checking perceived NATO expansion was one of the reasons Putin extended to justify his illegal invasion of Ukraine. Putin loves saying NATO’s post-cold war foray into central-eastern Europe is unnerving for Russia. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s Secretary-General, should now expose Putin’s baloney. Pacifist and peace-loving Finland and Sweden are keen to enter the alliance not for aggression and it is a no-brainer. Rather it is anxiety over their own safety which has urged them to make the application.
However, the avenue leading Finland and Sweden to NATO is not going to be smooth. Turkey threatens to erect a major roadblock. President Erdogan barely hid his displeasure over their membership applications. Erdogan’s rationale: Finland and Sweden are staunch supporters of Kurdish rebels in Syria, who are seen as threats to Turkey’s national security.
Despite Erdogan’s open objection, the admissions will go through, thanks to an elated and enthused Stoltenberg. His upbeat mood is well-grounded. He is sure Finland and Sweden can bring to NATO’s table solid Arctic warfare strengths. What more, Finland today has the largest artillery force in Europe. Such artillery capabilities can be seamlessly woven into the alliance’s command structure, thus bringing a great deal of comfort to members of the alliance.
The Scandinavian applications had other consequences. On knowing about the twin membership keenness, Putin at once put a squeeze on power supplies across the border. He topped it with a military action threat. The alliance is not going to be cowed down by these empty manoeuvres. NATO’s confidence springs from its knowledge, post-induction of Finland and Sweden, NATO’s border with Russia will double in length. Surely, it will be a source of major security comfort for the pacifist duo. The 1975 Helsinki Final Act grants freedom to nations to opt for alliances of their choice. The need for this freedom is greater after Putin’s Ukrainian aggression.
Well, Putin does not see NATO as a defensive alliance. He may pillory NATO accusing it as a threatening military partnership. He may continue to exploit feelings of misplaced nationalism and brash religious bigotry to make himself Russia’s President for Life. Obviously, he needs the bogey of external threats. Finland and Sweden, plus the NATO as a whole, fit Putin’s plans to a tee.