Associated with NATO since 1994, under the Partnership for Peace (PPP), the outbreak of war in Ukraine on February 24 brought Helsinki and Stockholm, two non-NATO states, closer to the “potential” candidacy. The Prime Minister of Finland from the Social Democratic Party said: “There is no other way to obtain security guarantees except in the framework of common defense and deterrence as guaranteed by Article 5 of NATO.”
Scandinavian expansion angers Moscow
The prospect of NATO expansion to include Scandinavia greatly displeases the Kremlin, which did not hesitate to threaten its neighbors directly. The Russian Foreign Ministry responded by noting that Helsinki’s accession to NATO would lead “to serious political and military consequences. The ministry spokeswoman noted that the expansion of NATO to the Scandinavian countries would not enhance their national security,” but would de facto place them on the front line. For several days, the Russian army doubled the signs of provocations. On May 4, a Russian Mil Mi-17 helicopter crossed four to five kilometers airspace for the second time in less than a month. Some kind of accident became regular, the day before, Russia also violated Estonian airspace.
In Brussels, the Scandinavian profile is closely watched. We are in dialogue with Stockholm and Helsinki and the decision is up to them. “If they decide to submit an application, Finland and Sweden will be warmly welcomed and the process will take place quickly,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on April 28 in Brussels. Within the organization, member states almost unanimously agree to integrate Sweden and Finland. After a meeting in Berlin on Tuesday 3 May, the political leaders of Germany, Sweden and Finland, Chancellor Olaf Scholz specified that “if these two countries decide that they should join NATO, they can count on our support.”
From non-alignment and neutrality to NATO, a 180 degree inflection
The possibility of running for NATO membership represents a major geopolitical revolution for the two Scandinavian countries. In keeping with Soviet policy during the Cold War, Helsinki was subject to “forced neutrality” which is summarized under the term “Finlandisation”. The dissolution of the communist regime in 1991 enabled Helsinki to free itself from this forced alignment. In 1995, the country joined the European Union, definitively breaking this neutrality imposed since 1945 and the end of World War II.
A new historic step was taken in mid-April, when the government presented the members of the Finnish parliament with a new “White Paper”. This document, which sets out military objectives and geostrategic directions, recommends joining NATO. Representatives began studying the topic during a parliamentary debate. Prime Minister Sanna Marin wants to speed up the pace of submitting a request before the next NATO summit in Madrid in June: “I think it will happen fairly quickly. In a few weeks, not a few months. »
Peacefully since the Napoleonic Wars, NATO is no longer a taboo word in Stockholm since February 24, the date of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “We’ve been unbiased for 200 years and that’s served us well,” Magdalena Anderson cautioned. Nor does the Scandinavian country rule out joining the ranks of the Western Alliance. The Swedish leader said during the 1 . celebrationsVerse mayo.
Controversy over a possible candidacy is escalating in the country. The Atlantic war strengthened the Swedes, 54% of them now want Sweden to join NATO. Five months before the general election, the Social Democrats currently in power announced in early April the opening of internal discussions to clear the line. “This dialogue must be completed before the summer,” said Tobias Boden, the party’s general secretary since November 2021.