with Finland, NATO border will move even closer to Russiaalmost 1,400 kilometers of common line that strengthens the Alliance’s position in a nearby area of great economic and geostrategic interest for Moscow: the Arctic.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin will make a historic decision on Thursday to support membership, breaking more than eight decades of non-alignment. This upset Russia, which claims that it is “a threat to its borders.” The expert Neil Winn analyzes for LA RAZÓN the historic decision of the Finnish authorities to join the Alliance.
Putin warned that Finland and Sweden in NATO would promote a rearmament in the Baltic. Is this a real threat?
Arguably, if Finland and Sweden join NATO, the risk of attack by Russia will decrease and deterrence will be more cohesive for the Nordic region. However, this would also significantly change the security of the Baltic states. The entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO could strengthen the Alliance, while protecting both countries. NATO would also have to restructure its Nordic and Baltic defenses. In principle, this would act as an important deterrent against Russian aggression.
On the other hand, joining NATO could prompt Moscow to deploy nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania – if they are not already deployed there. In reality, a more realistic risk is that of Russian cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, and occasional airspace violations.
Which other countries, apart from Sweden, would be willing to join NATO in the next few years?
At the 2008 Bucharest Summit, the Allies agreed that Georgia and Ukraine would become NATO members in the future. Currently, three associated countries have declared their aspirations to join NATO: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine. None of these candidates has an imminent chance of joining NATO. In the case of Moldova, it is a country that wants to remain neutral, but could be drawn into a broader war if Moscow escalates the conflict beyond Ukraine.
Is NATO, after the invasion of Ukraine, more necessary than ever?
The war in Ukraine is as much about conceptions of world order as it is about conflict. On the one hand, NATO represents a liberal internationalist conception of the world order that is based on international law, multilateralism and good governance. By contrast, Russia and China represent authoritarian visions of the world order. The choice is between the rule of law and the state of war. NATO’s new Strategic Concept, to be adopted at the Madrid summit in June 2022, has been revamped and will strongly defend the liberal internationalist agenda of global governance against its main authoritarian competitors.
Is it completely out of the question for Ukraine to join NATO in the near future?
French President Emmanuel Macron has recently declared that it will take decades for Ukraine to join the European Union, if at all. Given the circumstances, it also cannot be seen how Ukraine could join NATO for long, given the current Russian military action and occupation of parts of Ukraine. NATO is likely to leave the door open for Ukraine to join (as this sends an important message to Russia), but the likelihood of this happening is not great in the short to medium term. Parts of Ukraine, such as the eastern Donbas region, are likely to remain under Russian occupation for some time.
Neil Winn is Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer in European Studies, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds