Dimensions of Finland & Sweden’s NATO Membership

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - Dimensions of Finland & Sweden’s NATO Membership

In what seemed like a strategic reversal in the policies that had been adopted since the Second World War by some Western countries, such as Germany’s move towards strengthening her military capabilities, Sweden and Finland have recently announced their endeavour to join NATO to guarantee their security against Russian threats.

Contrary to Russia's warnings to Sweden and Finland against proceeding with their requests to join NATO, US President Joe Biden, together with the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense welcomed enthusiastically the Finnish and Swedish requests, deeming such a move as adding strength to NATO. Britain for her part followed the US standpoint and Prime Minister Boris Johnson headed to Finland and Sweden on 11 May 2022 where he signed a security pact with both countries and pledged to protect them. Germany and France for their part welcomed the endeavours of Sweden and Finland to join NATO through a tweet by the German President and a French presidential communiqué. Amid the celebrations of Sweden’s request to join NATO, and in a standpoint alluding to Sweden and the European countries acquiescing to American willpower, the Swedish leftist opposition said the government was proceeding in the same direction like the rest of the herd.

On the other hand, and contrary to the standpoints of America, Britain and the rest of the Western countries, Turkey expressed her unequivocal objection to Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership, justifying this by what she referred to as her "legitimate security concerns”. This was announced by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu during his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on 18 May 2022 in New York, amid speculation that the Turkish standpoint has sided with Russia who is engaged in a war with the West, and especially as Turkey has unveiled a host of conditions in exchange for changing her stance towards Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership. This indicates that President Erdogan has seized the opportunity to invest in Finland and Sweden’s request to join NATO to achieve a host of expedient and political gains which would help soften the targeting of the Turkish economy and curbing the European states and America’s harnessing of the opposition forces in undermining the Turkish regime. Moreover, President Erdogan is investing in the issue to close off the file of the sanctions that have deprived Turkey of acquiring military technologies, air defence systems and F35 jetfighters following her purchase of Russia's S-400 missile system. And to achieve a breakthrough and entrench the reality he has imposed militarily on the PKK and its Syrian militia QASD, thus completing the 30-kilometre deep buffer zone in northern Syria, relying on his even-handed standpoint vis-à-vis the Russo-Ukrainian war and on Russia’s engrossment on the Ukrainian battlefront and the American-led NATO campaign and its economic fallouts on Russia and Europe, Erdogan announced in his recent speeches that Turkey would not support Finland and Sweden’s application to join NATO unless her demands pertinent to the PKK and the sanctions imposed on his country were met. Erdogan went to extremes in his intransigence towards Finland and Sweden’s membership to NATO and announced on 16 May 2022 that there was “no need for Finnish and Swedish delegations to visit Turkey if the aim is to persuade us to approve their NATO membership.” This means that he is attempting to impede their application for membership temporarily so that he may gain a favourable Russian standpoint towards expanding the buffer zone in northern Syria in order to kill off the notion of a Kurdish entity, harness the presence of such a zone to encourage Syrian refugees to return to their homes and nullify the argument of the opposition who continue to play the tune of the refugees to incite the masses against the government. This explains his saying that, “Turkey will distinguish at this stage between those who respect her security sensitivities and those who only care about their interests and will design its policies in the future on this basis.” The statement is directed at Russia, America and Europe, since the continued raids on Idlib and northern Syria by the Syrian regime and Russia is a reminder to Erdogan that he should not drift too far away in his standpoints towards the American dictates.

As for America’s stance towards Erdogan’s intention to move in northern Syria, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said “ So we are deeply concerned about reports and discussions of potential increased military activity in northern Syria…. We expect Turkey to live up to the October 2019 joint statement, including to halt offensive operations in northeast Syria.” The US response also came through the endeavour of the US embassy in Ankara to provide, through one of its communiqués, a cover and protection for the protests staged by the opposition forces to unsettle Erdogan and through inciting Ali Babacan and Ahmet Davutoğlu, and calling on the opposition to rally their ranks to face Erdogan in next year’s elections; and all this comes in the context of exerting pressure on Erdogan to mellow his stance towards Finland and Sweden’s membership, dissuade him from moving militarily in northern Syria, and in the context of preparing to weaken the chances of the PKK in the next elections.

The US sees the intransigence of Erdogan as blackmail since he realises the significance of admitting Sweden and Finland to NATO and the impact it may have on besieging Russia and on the security of the European continent which will be facing a new hotbed of tension in the future due to the dormant Russo-Finnish border dispute which is prone to erupt and deepen the state of uncertainty between Russia and Europe.

As for the Russian stance towards Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership, President Putin announced on 16 May that, “Russia does not have any problems with Sweden and Finland,” but “the expansion of NATO over their lands necessitates a response from us,” adding “the NATO expansion is a fabricated problem for the benefit of Washington.” It is clear from the standpoint of Putin that he could do nothing but denounce and threaten which will not prevent the membership of the two countries , but it sends a message to Georgia and Ukraine whose membership to NATO will constitute a serious threat to Russian national security and to the European states who are aware of the American aims behind NATO’s expansion and its fallouts on European security in all its aspects. In this context, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters, “NATO expansion and its closeness to our borders does not make the world and our continent more stable and secure.” As for the security pacts Britain has concluded with Sweden and Finland, it was designed to link the two countries to NATO via Britain’s gate, until they become officially members. Britain is a NATO member state and her commitment to protect Finland and Sweden entails a NATO intervention as per Article 5 of the NATO charter, which stipulates that any attack on a member state is an attack on all member states. By projecting herself as a military power capable of providing protection and deterring other states, Britain is seeking to compete with other European nations and influence European decision-making through the gates of NATO now that she has left the EU; this role was assigned to her by Washington and it was reflected in her previous military manoeuvres in the Black Sea and her recent security agreement with Japan, especially as the security pact she concluded with Finland and Sweden has come in the context of the Russian war on Ukraine. This portrays Britain as a major power that has returned to the world political scene and gives her an international standing bigger than her real size.

As for the plane of the American aims, it is well known that expanding NATO by admitting Finland and Sweden would achieve several aims such as extending the frontlines against Russia, dissipating her military deployment, focusing her military strategy on defensive issues, directing the Russian economy towards military investment and thus depleting the Russian economy and moving it away from civilian industries with competitive dimensions, and killing off the notion of establishing a military force independent of NATO, due to the European states inability to provide defensive cover to the European flaccid flanks on the eastern and southern fronts, as well as the nascent northern front which stretches for 1300 kilometres on the Russo-Finnish borders alone. Moreover, expanding NATO will corroborate the European states affiliation to the US and will bolster the American arms market on which NATO member states depend and which yields billions of dollars to the US Treasury. Hence, America’s endeavour to expand NATO and ensure its continuance was never far from the pressures exerted by the influential military industrial conglomerate on the US decision-makers; this was corroborated by former Judge Advocate General (J.A.G) in the United States Army, Major Todd Pierce, when he addressed the issue of US national security policies being dominated by Lockheed Martin.

24 Shawwal 1443h
25 May 2022