Both Finland and Sweden consider joining NATO in June following the escalation of the war in Ukraine

Finland is one step away from joining NATO, as is neighboring Sweden. Both Baltic countries have ignored Russia’s threats not to change their military status and plan to apply to join the Atlantic Alliance in the coming months. Russia’s Deputy Chairman of the Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, issued a stern warning last Thursday about a possible nuclear deployment in the Baltic. It should be recalled that Finland shares a 1,300-kilometer border with Russia.

Tension in the Baltic is increasingly latent, the escalation of the war in Ukraine has made Finland and Sweden reconsider their historical military neutrality. The Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, assured that her country will discuss the option and make a decision “in a few weeks”. The relationship of both Nordic countries with Russia is marked by mistrust and strategic geographical position. For the Kremlin, NATO’s enlargement of its borders is a direct threat because of its position of power.

Marin stated that “in the polls, support for NATO membership has grown” from 22% to 62%. “There is no other way to have security guarantees than under NATO deterrence and collective defense, as guaranteed by Article 5 of NATO,” he added. One of the things that have made both countries shuffle their change of position is the iron unity being shown by the military body regarding the Russian invasion.

Finland is an independent state of Czarist Russia and experienced two invasions in the 1930s and 1940s. The most notorious, the famous ‘Winter War’, which broke out on November 30, 1939, only three months after the outbreak of World War II.

Conflict in case of NATO membership

In the event of NATO membership, Finland would change the European geopolitical and military chessboard. Russia warns of the danger of NATO membership. The Alliance works as a collective security system, its member states agreeing under Article 5 to defend themselves against any attack on one of its members. The allies could deploy their troops on Nordic territory, as it has done in Poland or the Baltic countries. Entry would involve simmering tension with Russia.

It should not be forgotten that Finland maintains almost universal recruitment, with a large active reserve force. Although its full-time professional army numbers only 22,000 active-duty personnel, approximately 900,000 Finns make up the country’s reserve forces and unlike Ukraine, these forces are primarily armed with modern Western and American European weapons systems, including the German-made Leopard tank and the US-made F-18 Hornet.

Russian Vice-President Dmitry Medvedev, aware that Russia’s chances of acting right now are nil given the poor performance of its armed forces in Ukraine, is trying to apply pressure with the only weapon it has left: the nuclear threat: “It will be necessary to reinforce the grouping of ground forces, anti-aircraft defense, deploy significant naval forces in the waters of the Gulf of Finland. And then it will no longer be possible to speak of a Baltic without nuclear weapons. The balance must be restored.”

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