The strong but, until now, formally non-aligned Nordic nations of Finland and Sweden have officially announced their intentions to seek NATO membership.
The Prime Minister of Finland, Sanna Marin, has confirmed that Finland will be applying for membership in NATO, and requested the Finnish Parliament to confirm that decision “during the coming days” – abandoning the neutral status Finland has held since the end of World War Two. President Sauli Niinisto called it a historic day for his nation, in which a new era begins, stressing that the decision was taken to maximize Finland’s security, including simple feelings of comfort and safety on the part of individual citizens. President Niinistro stated,
“Today, the President of the Republic and the Government’s Foreign Policy Committee have jointly agreed that Finland will apply for NATO membership, after consulting parliament. This is a historic day. A new era is opening.”
Prime Minister Marin adds, “We hope the parliament will confirm the decision to apply for the NATO membership during the coming days. It will be based on a strong mandate.” The move brings an end to Finland’s long-standing commitment to military non-alignment, which has been pursued by the country for 75 years.
NATO foreign ministers say they want a rapid accession process for Finland, which shares a 1,300-km (810-mile) border with Russia, despite resistance from Turkey, who accuses both Finland and Sweden of providing shelter for Kurdish fighter struggling for freedom from Turkish rule. Sweden – which has been neutral for a remarkable two hundred years! – could also announce its intention to join as soon as Monday [there has been an update: see below]. One Finnish commenter notes, “We Finns aren’t anxious or concerned. We are determined and we are prepared to stand our ground just like our forefathers have done for centuries.” God bless Finland. And if Russia is foolish enough to attack them, “Hakkaa Päälle!”1
Meanwhile Liz Truss, the British foreign minister, states that the U.K. is “strongly supportive” of both Finland and Sweden joining NATO, and that they are “working closely with the Ukrainians, Poles, and others to make sure that Ukraine has NATO-standard defense.” She adds that it is also important to keep in mind the global situation, “because as well as protecting Euro-Atlantic security, we also need to watch out for Indo-Pacific security, too.” Indeed! China is not idle in all this...
In separate but related news, there is evidence of a pending major Ukrainian counter-offensive to cut off and destroy or capture Russian forces in the Izyum salient. If they do counterattack there successfully, they could neutralize some 25% of Russian ground forces in Ukraine. This is on top of the estimated 30% of Russia’s initial invasion force that have been destroyed or rendered combat-ineffective. It is no wonder that one YouTube channel comments that “something ‘big’ is happening in Ukraine as the battle of the Izyum Salient begins.”
Meanwhile the UK Express reports that Russia has begun to lose support even “in its own backyard,” as its neighbour Kazakhstan cancels their Victory Day parade in protest to Putin’s military action in Ukraine, continuing “The Kazakhstani Ministry of Defence gave the official reason for the cancellation as budget savings and ‘other issues.’ However many believe it serves as a clear sign to Moscow, given the importance of the celebration to Russia and post-Soviet unity.”
The Kazakhstan government, the Express notes, has expressed their disapproval of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, with first deputy chief of staff of the Kazakhstani presidency Timur Suleimenov calling it a “war” and not (per the Kremlin) a “special military operation” at an event in Washington, DC. One political science professor, Taras Kuzio, is quoted as saying that “Russia has lost support in its own backyard. Only Lukashenka [President of Belarus] still sits in Putin’s pocket (for now).” Of course, a cornered bear is a dangerous bear…
Just in! It is now 4:51 p.m., EST, and this was posted a short while ago:
Ann Linde, Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister, said: “Today the Swedish Social Democratic Party took a historic decision to say yes to apply for a membership in the NATO defence alliance. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has deteriorated the security situation for Sweden and Europe as a whole.” In a statement, the Social Democrats, Sweden’s ruling party, said: “The party board has at its meeting on May 15, 2022 decided that the party will work toward Sweden applying for membership in NATO.”
Another dreadnought swinging into the line of battle!
Putin’s incredibly ill-advised invasion of Ukraine, coupled with equally ill-advised threats and bellicosity toward Finland and Sweden, have convinced both nations to give up (in Sweden’s case) as much as two centuries of neutrality to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This will substantially shore up NATO’s northern flank – both Nordic nations have strong militaries, which are already equipped to NATO standard (better, in fact, than some existing NATO countries) and have been working and exercising with the alliance for years – and beyond the immediate situation sparked by the Russo-Ukraine war, will greatly improve our situation in the High Arctic.
As the UK Express puts it, “Sweden has called Putin’s bluff, announcing a bid to join NATO in a ‘historic’ show of defiance.” The heirs of the Vikings are finding their strength once again! The Swedish decision “comes just hours after Finland announced it will apply to become part of the alliance.” The two Nordic nations have, in effect, done what many thought they might do (and a lot of us were hoping they would do): apply to join NATO together.
As someone with a nice bit of Swedish blood, and a touch of Finnish, this does my heart proud!
“Hakkaa Päälle!” is a historic Finnish battle-cry which means, approximately, “Cut them down!” or “Hack them down!”