A revival of patriotism flourishes in Sweden and Finland in the face of new neighboring Russian aggression.
Neutrality has been a cornerstone of both countries’ foreign policy for decades, but the war in Ukraine is changing everything.
“I think it will happen quite quickly, in weeks, not months,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said.
Helsinki and Stockholm are now expected to drop their neutral identities and apply for NATO membership in the coming weeks.
The move would mark NATO’s biggest expansion plan in nearly 20 years.
“We had bet that Russia would become peaceful, and now that it has launched such a brutal, massive and unprovoked attack on a peaceful neighbor, who is also non-aligned, it has made people think,” said Robert Dalsjö, former senior adviser to the Swedish government. Department of Defense.
The 30-nation NATO alliance includes the United States, Canada and 28 European countries.
An armed attack on one member is considered an attack on all – attractive protection for small countries close to Russia.
The border between Finland and Russia stretches over 800 miles.
“Finland and Sweden want to join NATO for the same reason Ukraine wants to join NATO,” said Ian Kelly, former public affairs adviser to the US mission to NATO. “They see it as a deterrent against Russian expansionism.”
Public support for NATO membership has increased dramatically in both countries since Russia invaded Ukraine.
As a result, Helsinki and Stockholm seem unaffected by the growing threats from Moscow.
Last week, Russia warned it would deploy nuclear weapons in the Baltic region if Sweden and Finland joined NATO, but defense analysts say Russia already has nuclear weapons there.
“It seems to me that Russia is hanging on to straws right now,” Dalsjö said. “They have their hands full with Ukraine, so I highly doubt they’ll come here and kill anyone.”
Still, Dalsjö says Europe should not underestimate Russia’s response.
“Russia will be unhappy with the membership of Sweden and Finland, and it will make its displeasure felt,” Dalsjö said.
Sweden and Finland are the only Nordic countries that are not yet part of NATO.
Their addition would greatly improve the alliance’s ability to defend against Russia, especially in the Baltic Sea.
“There will be NATO assets along the entire Baltic Sea coast, and that’s a nightmare for Russian naval planners,” Kelly said.
The two countries have not yet officially announced their intentions. They will likely do so before the next major NATO summit in June, where members could sign a membership document. This document should then be approved by the legislators of each member country. That means two-thirds of the US Senate.
The whole process usually takes years, but in the case of Finland and Sweden it could be shortened to months, due to their advanced democratic and militaristic standards.
Newsy is the only free 24/7 national news network. You can find Newsy using your TV’s digital antenna or streaming for free. Find out all the ways you can watch Newsy here.