Dangerous gamble

Dangerous gamble

Elena Popova

Sweden and Finland intend to join NATO in the coming months – the loss of neutral status no longer bothers them. The block approved the course and promised to settle the formalities as quickly as possible. RIA Novosti figured out how this threatens Moscow.
Dash to the East
The final decision on joining NATO will be announced by the Finnish leadership on May 12, and in a few days this issue will be considered by the Swedish authorities. Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assured that the entry procedure would not drag on for long. Now the leaders of the Scandinavian countries are trying to get security guarantees from the UK and the US for a transitional period.
It is worth noting that both states are already deeply involved in NATO activities, but several factors held them back from full-fledged entry. The issue began to be seriously discussed back in 2015. At that time, the United States and Great Britain demanded that the new members become guarantors of the security of the Baltic countries, which obviously did not suit either Helsinki or Stockholm. “Finland is not in a position to offer others military protection that it does not have itself,” President Sauli Niiniste emphasized.
This explanation is more of a pretext: none of the Baltic republics asked for protection at that time. The attempts of Great Britain and the United States to push their security onto the shoulders of their neighbors – against the wishes of the same Estonia – looked strange. But the disadvantages of the decision seemed obvious: Russia could regard this step as a threat to the Kaliningrad region.
In seven years the situation has changed. Before February 24, only 24 percent of respondents in Finland and 37 percent in Sweden supported joining NATO. According to the results of the April survey, 68 and 49 percent, respectively, were in favor. The authorities of both countries are convinced that the threat has increased significantly. “Russia is not the neighbor we thought it was,” said Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
At the same time, anything is recorded under threatening actions. For example, the Swedish security services have been preparing for various attacks from Russia for several years. Last year, Russian intelligence was accused of a cyber attack on the computers of the Swedish Sports Confederation, but the country’s prosecutor’s office refused to investigate.
Dangerous gamble
According to experts, the entry of Sweden and Finland will provide the North Atlantic Alliance with control over most of the coast of the Baltic Sea, which will affect the entire architecture of regional security.
The official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said: if countries join NATO, their territories will become a space of confrontation between the alliance and Russia. The consequences will inevitably affect “good neighborly relations.” “Is this what the peoples of Sweden and Finland are striving for?” she addressed the inhabitants of the Scandinavian states.
After the end of the Cold War and the dismantling of the Warsaw Pact, Russia and NATO embarked on the path of rapprochement and overcoming mistrust. In 1997, the result of the common work was the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, which, among other things, consolidated the obligation to limit the deployment of alliance troops near Russian borders.
“Now that’s it. Although NATO has not yet directly said about withdrawing from the Founding Act. They say that “the agreement has not been killed yet. ” He explained that a “clause” is a “legal clause”: “The meaning of it is that the contract remains valid for the parties only as long as the circumstances that led to its conclusion persist.”
Medvedev reasonably suggested that after Sweden and Finland join the alliance, the United States and Great Britain would immediately deploy nuclear weapons on their territory. Military exercises near the border will become more frequent, and in general “they will do any nasty things.” Accordingly, the Kremlin is no longer obliged to look back at the 1997 document.
Meanwhile, not all NATO countries want to see Finland and Sweden in their ranks. Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said he would veto their entry if the issue is considered at the appropriate summit. He called drawing these countries into the alliance “dangerous quackery” and pointed out that there are many problems in the Balkans that require more attention.
“Unless the Americans, the British and the Germans force Sarajevo and Bakir Izetbegovic (leader of the ruling party of Bosnia and Herzegovina. – Approx. ed.) in the next six months to change the electoral law and give the Croats basic rights, Croatia will not approve of anyone joining NATO” Milanovic said.
However, the decision can be made without it. The verdict on the inclusion of a new member in the alliance is made by the North Atlantic Council. And its meetings are held both with the participation of the leaders of the countries, and at the level of permanent representatives – in the case of Croatia, this is the ambassador.
Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of the National Defense magazine, has no doubts that both countries will join NATO this year: “A decision will be made this summer, and entry will follow a short procedure.”
Configuration change
It is noteworthy that Finland and Sweden managed to maintain a neutral status for a long time. Sweden is perhaps the longest – she refused to participate in hostilities after the Napoleonic battles and avoided any conflicts for the last 200 years. In turn, Helsinki declared neutrality after the Second World War, which ensured a calm development for the Scandinavian state for years.
“Starting from 2014, the West has been strenuously trying to draw both countries into the NATO bloc. According to strategists, especially American and British ones, Russia has fallen out of obedience and needs to be punished in some way. It is difficult to do this directly, so allies are needed,” explains military expert Alexei Leonkov.
It turned out that the northern flank of NATO is represented only by Norway, which is not able to accept a large number of bases of the alliance and influence the strategic balance of forces.
“More than 30 air, sea and land military bases can be located in Sweden and Finland. Of course, this will allow the supply of forward-based weapons, which will not go unnoticed by the Russian Ministry of Defense,” the expert notes.
If a positive decision is made, Moscow will obviously have to take into account the emergence of new players in the NATO bloc and transform the defense configuration. How exactly is still unclear.
“Nuclearly, nothing is likely to change – in the event of a real threat, Russian missiles will reach these territories without any problems. If we talk about the country’s security, there will be no radical coups here either. On the other hand, we need to look at what will happen there: what bases will be built, what weapons will be sent,” Leonkov concluded.
Experts agree that de facto Finland and Sweden are already in an alliance, now this status will only be fixed de jure. And while the United States says that the North Atlantic Alliance does not threaten Russia in any way, Moscow will reserve the right to engage in its own defense.

The post Dangerous gamble appeared first on The Frontier Post.