Recently, Russia threatened to deploy nuclear weapons in and around the Baltic Sea Region because Finland and Sweden are planning to join NATO. Finland and Sweden both have a long history of nonalignment and neutrality on security and defense. Although there were some violent moments in their histories with Russia, they still prefer to pursue a balanced security policy toward Russia, to avoid provoking their powerful eastern neighbor which shares around 1300 kilometers of land border with Finland. Yet as the tension is fueled by Russia’s invasion, Finland and Sweden are going to discuss changing their traditional stances on their security issues regarding NATO. This may lead to the enlargement of NATO, which Putin did not want, and this consequence will also change the geopolitics of Northern Europe.
Finland and Sweden joining will bring substantial new capacities to NATO, and NATO can provide a collective defense umbrella for them as well. Based on Article 5 of NATO, an attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies, which means NATO can deploy its Joint Expenditure Army on Finland’s border to the frontline of Russia. Otherwise, both Sweden and Finland have high-quality and professional militaries, which can enhance the overall capacity of NATO’s military. This result is the one Russia aimed to prevent taking place with Ukraine, so it has now threatened both countries with nuclear weapons.
Russia will not be pleased to see this scenario happen. Two more neighboring countries joining will put Russia in an even weaker situation, and Russia will inevitably be forced to devote greater resources to its borders with Finland, as well as the waters near Kaliningrad, an integral economic and naval corridor. This may cut Russia’s capacity not only in the invasion of Ukraine but also the power to defeat NATO allies. Russia began to threaten those two countries rhetorically, but what it may do in the period after application but before the joining is the critical question. Fortunately, NATO has indicated its willingness to provide security guarantees for the interim period, and there seems to be no prospect of invasion of either country barring further heavy sanctions or isolation levied against Moscow that could trigger Putin to lash out.
To sum up, although both countries are still discussing whether to join NATO, NATO’s members also need to ask themselves whether Finnish and Swedish membership is worth the risk of being drawn into a potential conflict. Well, the answer is apparently positive, as both countries’ membership not only can protect the core values of NATO, but also provide solid political and defense capacities in the event of further geopolitical conflicts.
Written by: Eddie C
Edited by: Ari B