Europe (Times Of Ocean)- Finland and Sweden took a big step toward NATO membership on Wednesday after their prime ministers said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine had changed Europe’s “whole security landscape” and “dramatically changed mindsets” in the Nordic countries.
According to the Finnish premier, Sanna Marin, her country, which shares a 1,300km (810-mile) border with Russia, will decide whether to apply to join the alliance “quite soon, not months”, despite the risk of infuriating Moscow.
NATO membership would be seen as a provocation by Russia, which has been repeatedly warned both countries against joining. As the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has noted, if Finland and Sweden became members of NATO, Russia would have to take measures to “rebalance the situation.”.
During a joint press conference with her Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson, Marin said Finland had to be “prepared for all kinds of Russian actions” and that “everything had changed” when Russia attacked Ukraine.
“The difference between being a partner and a member is very clear, and will remain so. There is no other way to have security guarantees than under NATO’s deterrence and common defense as guaranteed by the alliance’s article 5,” she said.
Article 5 of the 30-member alliance’s collective defense doctrine states that any attack on one member is an attack on all. In the history of the organization, it has been invoked only once, in response to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks.
There was “no point” in delaying an analysis of whether Sweden should join NATO, she said. “There is a before and after 24 February,” she added, referring to the date when Russia invaded Ukraine. “This is a very important time in history. The security landscape has completely changed. We have to analyse the situation to see what is best for Sweden’s security, for the Swedish people, in this new situation.”
The White Paper on Finland’s “fundamentally changed” security environment, released on Wednesday, does not recommend NATO, but it will serve as the basis for a parliamentary debate after Easter.