In recent days we have seen Sweden and Finland declare their intention to join the Nato. The two countries, before that, traditionally pursued the “Policy of Non-Membership in any Alliance ” , a policy that they pursued even during the Cold War era. This policy of impartiality was seen by Moscow as an important factor in guaranteeing stability in North Europe, a policy accepted also by the European countries. Now, with the new applications by these two countries, though the Nato has expressed satisfaction with deepening cooperation with Finland and Sweden, the Russian authorities have interpreted this step as an open declaration of hostility against Russia. Under such circumstances, the question raised is that what exactly is the reason of Sweden and Finland for such an application? And what strategic consequence will ensue following they joining NATO?
In response to the first question, first it has to be said that though on the international media it is tried to portray the Russian invasion of Ukraine as the sole cause of concern for these two North European countries and their decision to join the NATO bloc, a matter that is part of the reality puzzle, definitely it is not all the reality. If we see the stage of strategic games a bit wider , we will see that after the US National Security ‘s change of strategy in recent years and the US pivot from the Middle East and Persian Gulf to china and Russia, efforts to strengthen NATO and uniform Europe against Russia to weaken one of these two rivals (Russia) have been put on top agenda of the US strategic plans.
Therefore, the point to note here is that the two Scandinavian countries’ expression of willingness for NATO membership has not been merely a domestic decision based on their security needs, but supported and orchestrated by the US. Signing a new agreement by Finland for buying 64 F-35 Fighter jets in February 2021 is hard evidence substantiating such a claim, and this is what the American officials seek; weakening Russia with costs paid from the allies’ pockets. Thus, with NATO expansion and the military strengthening of the European section of NATO, the European partnership for containing Russia will widen, and the US can contain China with an opener hand.
But in response to the second question, what strategic consequence will ensue following they joining NATO? , it has to be said that it will lead to NATO more than ever being strengthened and Russia more tightly encircled, as a result definitely the security atmosphere and level of tensions in North Europe getting heightened. Although Finland and Sweden lack a considerable population and military budget, they enjoy desirable modern armies and industrial-technological infrastructures, and of course they have increased their military expenditure in recent years due to fear of Russian threats. After the outbreak of the Ukraine War, Finland increased its military budget from $3 billion to $5 billion and Sweden from $5 Billion to $7 billion. Therefore, membership of these two countries will strengthen NATO and help it expand.
The Russians, openly see Finland and Sweden joining to NATO as a grave danger to themselves, and for this, in case the two countries join NATO, in a not-so-distant future, we will witness a political and arms confrontation between Russia and the western front. Based on this, deployment of missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads on the Russian border with Finland and other European countries by the Kremlin, and invading the tiny European countries bordering Russia, using gas exports or energy-carriers cuts or taking their prices higher as a tool to pressure European countries, and of course the Kremlin trying to form alignments and confronting military agreements are some courses of action that Russia may take in response to this decision.
Therefore, not only NATO expansion to new dimensions will not bring security and stability for the European countries, but by putting them along the frontline of Russia and converting Europe to a tool for securing the US interests and goals, the political and economic development of the Green continent will suffer, and North and East Europe regions will turn into new crisis-creating regions on the world’s geopolitical map.
Dr.Mohammad Mehdi Mazaheri –University Professor
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)