(ORDO NEWS) — The entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO is not beneficial for the alliance, writes Bloomberg. According to the author of the article, none of these countries is threatened by a Russian invasion, and Helsinki membership, on the contrary, will only exacerbate the alliance’s vulnerability to Moscow.
None of the countries are threatened with Russian invasion, and they will receive American security for nothing, like many other Europeans.
One of the paradoxes of the Russian campaign in Ukraine, which was allegedly started to keep Kyiv out of NATO, is the reaction of the traditionally neutral Finland and Sweden. On May 18, just 84 days after the start of the special operation, the ambassadors of both countries applied to join the alliance at a ceremony at the headquarters in Brussels.
“This is a historic moment that we must take advantage of,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. “You are our closest partners, and your membership in the alliance will strengthen our common security.” It is likely that their applications will soon be approved, and NATO will grow to 32 member states.
However, in the hope of giving Putin a black eye as soon as possible, the leaders of the United States and NATO do not take into account the costs of joining new countries, although the formal goal of the alliance is still collective defense.
There are two obvious advantages to joining these Scandinavian countries. The first is symbolic: a clear demonstration of European and democratic solidarity against Russian military operations in Eastern Europe. The second is technical: with the accession of Finland and Sweden, membership in NATO will be more closely linked with membership in the EU. This will help avoid the unlikely but highly problematic scenario where an EU member that is not covered by Article 5 of the NATO Mutual Defense Charter becomes the victim of aggression.
In all other respects, the membership of Finland and Sweden is a complex and troubling issue. Let’s start with the collective defense capability of Europe.
Yes, both Finland and Sweden have highly developed economies. They could contribute to NATO’s technological capabilities thanks to national giants like Ericsson and Nokia. In addition, they are militarily stronger than many other European states – especially Finland, which not only retained conscription since the end of the Cold War, but also boasts high professionalism and the largest artillery on the continent.
However, from the point of view of the entire alliance – and especially the United States – the benefits are no longer so obvious. The Finnish and Swedish armed forces have long focused on protecting their own territories, so their contribution to common defense, the cornerstone of the NATO charter, is highly questionable.
And while both have pledged to increase military spending and strengthen their capabilities in the name of the common defense of Europe, it is possible that this will never happen. And instead, they will use America’s military power – and its nuclear umbrella – for nothing, as other European states have been doing for years. According to the International Monetary Fund, neither has come close to NATO’s official military spending target of 2% of GDP.
History teaches that the most likely outcome is that at the moment when it is time for Washington to turn to Asia, the care of two more states will fall on America’s shoulders.
Consider also the defense capability of the new territories of the alliance. Sweden’s membership still promises some strategic benefits: NATO will increase its control of the Baltic Sea and, in a future conflict, will be able to use the island of Gotland, an important staging post off the Baltic coast, as a foothold.
Finnish territory, on the other hand, is a strategic nightmare. The alliance’s vulnerability to future attacks from Moscow will be exacerbated: Helsinki and Moscow have a common border with a length of more than 1.3 thousand kilometers – according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “open to Russian military threats.”
There are plenty of other reasons for caution as well, such as the on-duty fears that with the admission of new members, the alliance will become even more cumbersome. It doesn’t take a genius to foresee that managing 32 countries will be even more difficult than 30. Even before Ukraine, NATO struggled to reconcile Greece and Turkey, few countries spent the required two percent of GDP on defense, and President Emmanuel Macron declared the alliance “death brain.”
Even in the face of the Russian threat, support for the new members is by no means unanimous. It is possible that Turkey’s furious protest is just an attempt to force political concessions out of the alliance, but in many ways it is a reaction to the fact that Sweden and Finland support the Kurds.
Finally, leaders must also consider the risk of an inadequate response from Russia. Moscow has already started three conflicts because of the threat of NATO expansion – the invasion of Georgia in 2008, Crimea in 2014 and the current confrontation in Ukraine. Moscow is obviously not going to be able to pull off another major military campaign right now, but it cannot be ruled out that President Vladimir Putin will do something reckless in response to the appearance of NATO 300 kilometers from his native St. Petersburg.
At the same time, it is far from obvious that Finland and Sweden are indeed at increased risk if they are not accepted into NATO. They have long successfully avoided crises thanks to their neutrality and internal defense capability. Not to accept them into NATO is not to “push” them, but only to maintain the working status quo.
The symbolic value of expanding the alliance as a retribution for Russian actions in Ukraine could be a decisive factor for Brussels. But before approving the applications of Stockholm and Helsinki, after which the heads of state and parliaments of member countries will speak on this issue, politicians should see the strategic picture in its entirety and consider whether this step will strengthen the alliance or not.
It follows from Article 10 of the NATO Charter that current members may invite new states if they “contribute to the security of the North Atlantic region.” By this criterion, a strategic decision to admit Sweden and Finland does not guarantee success.
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