We’ve been hearing rumors of this since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but as of this morning, it’s looking more and more like a done deal. The President of Finland just announced that his nation “must join NATO without delay.” There are some additional procedural steps to take care of before the application is official, but Finland’s leadership doesn’t appear to see any significant hurdles barring them from completing the application process in a matter of days. A separate report suggests that Sweden is preparing to make a similar announcement in a few days. There doesn’t seem to be any significant resistance among the NATO member nations, so the entire process could potentially happen in a couple of months. Finland shares a border of more than 800 miles with Russia, so this would put NATO literally on Russia’s doorstep on the entirety of its western flank. (NBC News)
Finland’s leaders announced Thursday their intention for the country to join NATO “without delay,” a move that would bolster the Western military alliance’s strength in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and redraw Europe’s security map.
The Nordic nation, which shares an 810-mile border with Russia, is expected to be given rapid accession to join the alliance and neighboring Sweden looks set to follow with its own bid in the coming days.
President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced their support for the country’s bid to join NATO in a joint statement early Thursday.
This will no doubt be viewed as a provocative move inside the Kremlin. Finnish President Niinistö was asked about this and he said that Putin would be to blame. “My response would be that you caused this. Look at the mirror.”
There is a NATO summit coming up on June 28 in Madrid. It’s expected that Finland’s application will be discussed then, along with Sweden’s if they follow suit. That means that it could be several months before the entire process is finalized. Finland would not be formally protected by Article 5 (“an attack on one is an attack on all”) while the application is in process. But that may not matter all that much. Boris Johnson has already acted preemptively and said that the UK would provide “military support” to either nation if they came under attack during the transitionary period.
With BoJo sticking his neck out in that fashion, you can expect other NATO members to make similar pledges. Those who do not would be obligated to come to their defense after the application is approved anyway, so there will very likely be unanimous consent on the matter.
This development demonstrates precisely how badly Putin’s strategy has backfired on him, but it also puts us in a rather tense chapter of the ongoing story. Keep in mind that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov previously said that there would be “serious military and political consequences” if either Finland or Sweden joined NATO. I think we’re past the point of anyone worrying about additional “political consequences” because we’re already in the midst of a global economic war with Russia.
So what about the military consequences? Russia has already embarrassed itself on the global stage by managing to become bogged down and at risk of potentially losing a war that almost everyone expected would be over in a matter of days. It’s no longer even clear if they’ll be able to hold on to the territory they previously claimed in the eastern regions of Ukraine. Are they really going to try to launch a land war against all of Europe as well as the United States and Canada? That idea, which once sounded ominous and frightening, now seems almost laughable.
If you take the idea of a massive land invasion off the table, all Putin is left with are his nukes. But he must surely be aware that the moment he fires one of those at a NATO member nation, his country will turn into a blossoming forest of mushroom clouds in response. Russia would effectively cease to exist as a nation, though the damage done to everyone else would be horrific as well. For the first time since this began, I’m almost at the point of being hopeful that Putin may simply have to fold his tent and go home. It all comes down to a question of just how crazy Mad Vlad really is at this point.