BALTIC-2-BLACK: Finland’s Leaders Favor Joining NATO; Sweden Could be Next; Moscow Has a Melt Down

May 12, 2022 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

Finland Closer to Joining NATO.

For years, 4GWAR has been reporting that Russia’s boorish, then belligerent and now inhumane behavior has been worrying its European neighbors, from the Baltic Sea in the North to the Black Sea in the South, since it annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

In recent weeks, we’ve noted that two of those neighbors in the Baltic region — long-standing neutrals Sweden and Finland — are on the brink of joining NATO in response to the continuing brutal assault on Ukraine ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24.

Finland’s leaders Thursday came out in favor of applying to join NATO, and Sweden could do the same within days, in a historic realignment on the continent 2 1/2 months after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine sent a shiver of fear through Moscow’s neighbors, the Associated Press reported.

Finland’s president and prime minister have called for the country to apply for NATO membership “without delay,” the BBC reported, noting “Russia and Finland share a 1,300km (810-mile) border. Finland has been non-aligned since World War Two and has always sought not to antagonise its eastern neighbour.”

The declaration by Finland’s leaders that they will join NATO — with expectations that neighboring Sweden would soon do the same — could now reshape a strategic balance in Europe that has prevailed for decades, The New York Times observed, noting “It is the latest example of how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 11 weeks ago has backfired on Mr. Putin’s intentions.”

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AP: Why It’s a Big Deal.

Support in Finland for NATO membership has hovered around 20 to 30 percent for years. It now stands at over 70%. The two are NATO’s closest partners but maintaining good ties with Russia has been an important part of their foreign policy, particularly for Finland., the AP explained in an analysis piece.

Now they hope for security support from NATO states — primarily the United States — in case Moscow retaliates. Britain pledged on May 11 to come to their aid.

Joining regional neighbors Denmark, Norway and Iceland in NATO, would formalize their joint security and defense work in ways that their Nordic Defense Cooperation pact hasn’t. Finland and Sweden in NATO would tighten the strategic Nordic grip on the Baltic Sea — Russia’s maritime point of access to the city of St. Petersburg and its Kaliningrad exclave.

If Finland and Sweden join NATO, the Baltic Sea would become a NATO lake, with Russia the only non-NATO member on its coastal waters.

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Moscow Meltdown

Russia warned that Finland’s potential membership in NATO was a threat and said that it was prepared to “balance the situation,” characterizing any steps it takes in response as a necessary reaction forced on it by the alliance’s continued expansion, The New Tork Times reported.

President Vladimir V. Putin has cited NATO’s spread eastward to countries on its borders as the primary national threat to Russia and has used Ukraine’s desire to join the alliance to justify his invasion of that country. Mr. Putin has accused the United States and its allies of fighting a “proxy war” by arming Kyiv’s forces, according to The Times.

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Closer Than You Think.

In late April naval vessels from NATO members Latvia, Estonia and the Netherlands practiced counter mine measures with their Finnish counterparts off Finland’s coast, while German, French, Dutch and Canadian navy vessels conducted an ant-submarine exercise with the Swedish navy in the Baltic Sea.

“Since Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, NATO has further reinforced its deterrence and defence, on land, in the air, and at sea. Finland and Sweden are NATO’s closest partners, with years of experience training and operating alongside NATO Allies,” according to a NATO press release.

U.S. and Finnish soldiers exchange information during Exercise Arrow 22 in Niinisalo Training Area, Finland in early May. Exercise Arrow is an annual, multinational exercise where visiting forces included U.S., U.K., Latvian and Estonian troops. (Photo Finnish Defence Forces via Facebook)

 

Entry filed under: HIGH NORTH, National Security and Defense, Skills and Training. Tags: , , , , , , .

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