February 02, 2022

Russia Is Driving Sweden and Finland Closer to NATO

By Heli Hautala

In December, Russia published two draft agreements that seek security guarantees from the United States and NATO and aim to change the European security order. Their general thrust—opposition to NATO enlargement (both past and future) and establishment of a Russian sphere of influence in Eastern Europe—is not new. The brazenness of the proposals has intensified foreign and security policy debate in Finland and Sweden, Russia’s non-NATO neighbors and, in Finland’s case, a country that fought two wars with the Soviet Union during World War II and stayed independent.

The amassing of Russian forces near the borders of Ukraine had already raised the temperature. Russia’s December demands, especially the one seeking to stop NATO enlargement, launched a new round of debate on NATO membership—one that may have permanently shifted the conversation.

Finland and Sweden value their defense cooperation with the United States and are ready to deepen it further.

Sweden and Finland are unlikely to apply to join NATO anytime soon. However, it is essential for both that NATO keeps its doors open to new members and that it maintains close cooperation with its partner countries while it focuses on guaranteeing the security of its members in the face of Russian aggression. Similarly, Finland and Sweden value their defense cooperation with the United States and are ready to deepen it further.

Sweden and Finland have stayed outside NATO partly due to their traditional policy of not belonging to any military alliance. This policy has enjoyed continuous support of the majority of both Finns and Swedes. At the same time, both countries have aimed at close cooperation and interoperability with NATO. Finland has also maintained strong national defense throughout the post-Cold War years.

Read the full article from Foreign Policy.

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