First Finland and now Sweden have announced their plans to apply for membership in the North American Atlantic Treaty Organization after decades of neutrality. The move immediately incensed Russian President Vladimir Putin, who threw a hissy fit by reportedly sending nukes to the Finnish border.
Sweden has said it will join Finland in bidding for membership of NATO, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted an ‘historic’ shift away from decades of neutrality.
Magdalena Andersson, the Swedish prime minister, announced the move on Monday – just a day after Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin tabled her own bid.
Finland and Sweden have been bound to codes of neutrality since at least the Second World War, in return for security guarantees from Moscow that it will not attack them.
On Sunday, a day before Sweden’s official announcement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg applauded the idea in a meeting of foreign ministers of alliance members:
President Putin wants Ukraine defeated, NATO down, North America and Europe divided. But Ukraine stands, NATO is stronger than ever, Europe and North America are solidly united.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced he will meet with the Swedish Defense Minister at the Pentagon later this week.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been openly opposed to the NATO applications, responded with a tantrum, reportedly moving mobile, nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Russia’s 810-mile border with Finland Monday. From the Sun:
- The mobile short range ballistic missile is capable of carrying cluster munitions or fuel-air explosive enhanced-blast warheads.
- With a range of up to 310 miles, the Iskander can also be deployed for bunker-busting and anti-radar missions.
- The movement of the lethal missiles comes after Russia warned Finland and Sweden that their decision to join NATO was a “grave mistake with far-reaching consequences.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also opposed to the applications, saying on Monday that Sweden was a “hatchery” for terrorism, and even had terrorists in its parliament. “Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organizations,” Erdogan said. “How can we trust them?”
Further provoking Russia, a reported 15,000 troops from 14 NATO countries will conduct a huge military drill in the Baltics starting today. Soldiers from Finland and Sweden will participate in the exercise dubbed ‘Siil’ or ‘Hedgehog’ today, which will take place just 40 miles from the nearest Russian base.
Some here at home are questioning the wisdom of provocations like these as well as the further expansion of NATO. After all, one of Russia’s justifications for invading Ukraine was the encroachment of NATO towards its western borders.
I get there’s nothing going on at home that Congress could be worrying about, but after decades of not being in NATO and being just fine isn’t the notion of eliminating this buffer zone a little bit how the Ukraine invasion started? https://t.co/MptrZyYT5q
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 16, 2022
Vlad had already been talking tough even before the applications were announced, saying helpful things like Russia could wipe out Finland in “ten seconds” if it wanted to, and that Sweden and Finland’s entry into NATO would certainly “trigger a response.” We’re apparently already starting to see what that response might look like.
NATO has been an important security block for the West since its creation after the Second World War, but is all this expansion making the world more dangerous, not less? We certainly wouldn’t let Canada or Mexico join a Russian security alliance; why would we think that Putin would take kindly to being almost surrounded?
Keep poking a bear, and eventually, it will swipe back.