In a blow to Russia, Ukraine invasion pushes Finland to join the Atlantic alliance
It’s not an understatement to say that his Ukraine invasion has been a miscalculation and unmitigated disaster for Vladimir Putin in every arena. His military has been brought low, their offensive capability destroyed, his economy left teetering.
Instead of swiftly subduing his neighbor, leaving Europe divided and disoriented and fearful of crossing him, the Russian despot triggered potentially the greatest level of European consensus and alliance-building in history, with the clearing of the final hurdle to allow the militarily neutral Finland to join NATO.
While the Nordic nation’s membership in the European Union has meant that it has technically been under a mutual defense pact for decades, Finland has taken great pains since the end of World War II not to offend the Russians next door and to represent itself as an impartial party on the world stage that would stand proudly alone to avoid being dragged into conflict. Its population had negative attitudes towards NATO membership for years, lower even than neighboring Sweden’s middling enthusiasm. Both countries probably could have stayed in that lane indefinitely.
Then, of course, came February of last year, and everything changed. Putin’s ill-fated “special military operation” not only failed to capture Kyiv in a few days as planned, but failed to terrorize the populations of neighboring countries into submission. Instead, support for NATO shot up in both countries and now, a year later, Finland will be part of the alliance once Turkey’s ratification is deposited with the State Department, probably today. NATO will now have a new 800-mile border with Russia, a stone’s throw away from St. Petersburg. Whoops.
Sweden should be next, meaning that Hungary and Turkey, which took their sweet time clearing the path for the Finns, must stop standing in the way and welcome the Swedes as well. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s obsession with global pro-Kurdish support is a bad reason to hold up a process that is ultimately about collective security. Let’s move things along, and he can quibble with Stockholm all he wants at the next NATO summit.
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