Finland, Sweden could join NATO this summer

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Monday that full accession by the Nordic neighbors to NATO would not bring stability to Europe.

By Reuters - April 11, 2022
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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is prompting Finland and Sweden to rethink life outside the NATO alliance.

A majority of Finns, who share an 800-mile border with their Russian neighbors, already say they would sign up to the military alliance.

Swedes are more hesitant but even there, approaching 60 percent would favor NATO membership, especially if Finland joins.

[A ‘clear majority’ supports NATO membership, says Finnish FM]

Rachel Rizzo, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank, says they would be knocking at a fairly open door.

“There are serious implications of Finland especially joining NATO. This means that the total land border between NATO territory and Russia would more than double. Right now it’s around 754 miles. If Finland joins, it will be nearly 1,600 miles, and so that’s a significant change, but I think that NATO allies understand how significant the Russian invasion of Ukraine is and what it means for Euro-Atlantic security. And there is broad support amongst NATO’s 30 allies for Finland and Sweden membership at the moment. I don’t think that there will be any spoilers amongst allies at this point in time.”

As close friends but non-members, Helsinki and Stockholm don’t have the protection — at least technically — of NATO’s guarantee that an attack on one ally is an attack on all.

But they do regularly participate in defense training with NATO countries like Norway. And that brings certain benefits, Rizzo says.

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“If Sweden or Finland came under attack by Russia. I do think that the Alliance would be ready to respond even though those two countries are not yet members. They work so closely with NATO in terms of exercises and in light of the Russian invasion.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Monday that full accession by the Nordic neighbors to NATO would not bring stability to Europe.

“Now obviously, Russia has said that Finland and Sweden joining would be seen as a direct threat to Russian security,” Rizzo says. “We should expect to see things like increased hybrid threats, cyber-attacks, information warfare for Russia to try to, as it always does, threaten and intimidate potential NATO members.”

[Finland says government websites hacked as Ukraine president spoke]

Both the Finnish and Swedish leaderships are reviewing their security policies — and the prospect of life inside NATO.

Finland’s will be ready in a matter of days. Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde told reporters recently that Stockholm is further behind.

“We are not there. We have to analyze this. We are not going to make any decision without a thorough analysis. That’s how we work in Sweden.”

NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, has said it would be possible to allow Finland and Sweden in “quite quickly.”

But the military alliance has not commented on what a fast-track process could look like.