Finland and Sweden approach NATO membership

It is a revolution for these two Northern European countries. Sweden and Finland have so far stayed away from NATO. In Finland, the debate has been officially opened at 12 noon on Wednesday, April 13, and the publication of a “White Paper” on the subject paves the way for a parliamentary discussion. According to Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, the decision will be swift, a matter of weeks, not months. Helsinki should formalize its candidacy ahead of the NATO summit scheduled for late June.

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The result of a complete turnaround in public opinion in this country of 5 million inhabitants. Sanna Marin explained this on Wednesday, when she was in Sweden with her Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson. Everything changed when Russia invaded Ukraine.explains Sanna Marin. The mentality of both Finns and Swedes has changed drastically because of Russia’s actions, that’s very clear.”

The opinion polls in Finland are startling. Three months ago, less than 30% of Finns were in favor of joining NATO. Today they are 68%! Those who oppose it are only 12%. Among the elected officials is the same, of the 200 deputies, only 12 are against according to the calculations of the Finnish media. Finland feels all the more threatened because it has a 1350 km border with Russia.

In Sweden, the shift in public opinion is somewhat less dramatic. Sweden has no border with Russia and the country has been militarily neutral for two centuries. But the cultural revolution is also underway among the 10 million Swedes. The hypothesis of joining NATO is now supported by 50% of the population, and opponents are less than 30%. Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson confirmed on Wednesday, still at this joint press conference, that the option of membership is clearly on the table.

It may take a few weeks or months longer than in Finland. At the beginning of September there will be elections in Sweden and this will undoubtedly be one of the main themes of the campaign. But the two countries therefore seem ready to become the 31st and 32nd members of NATOthus joining their Baltic or Scandinavian neighbors who all belong to the Atlantic organization. Needless to say, NATO is very much in favor of this enlargement, which normally lasts six to twelve months.

This is a major political failure for Vladimir Putin. Ukraine’s aggression, officially motivated by fears of Kiev joining NATO, is pushing two more countries into the arms of the Atlantic defense organization. Harder to find counterproductive. Moscow threatens Helsinki and Stockholm with “serious military and political consequences” in the event of accession to NATO.

In recent days, Russian planes have already raided Finnish airspace and several ministries have been the target of cyber attacks. Both countries fear reprisals, especially during the transition period, when the accession process is still underway. But these threats from Moscow are unlikely to change much: the tide has turned in both Finland and Sweden. And this wind is pushing west.

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