One of the leading images from the European heartland as on May 18, 2022 was the one where the NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg was found pictured with the Foreign Minister of Finland, Mr. Pekka Havisto as well as the Swedish Foreign Minister, Ms. Ann Linde.
Not that there was anything even remotely controversial about the image, rather in some ways, it could be said, there was something symbolic about the photograph. It showed a spirit of democratic solidarity among two key North European nations as well as NATO. A stance against Russian oppression, one would note?
While the majority in Europe – and perhaps rightly so- may seem to think that by applying for a NATO membership, Finland and Sweden are absolutely in the right, it’s rather interesting that there are also some who offer the theory that the membership may never actually be a thing that the two Nordic nations need in the current sphere of things.
Though one’s not sure that Sanna Marin or her Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson would agree to that.
Fundamentally speaking, Finland and Sweden, who applied for their NATO membership, feared Russian oppression or any action even remotely on the lines of a military assault or coup that the world has come to see by looking at the state of Ukraine.
It’s a state of being militarily on the backfoot particularly when one looks at the gargantuan might of Russia that perhaps got Finland and Sweden blink in the eye of fear. And hence, that prompted the nations to align themselves with the intergovernmental military alliance.
Which is why on May 18, 2022, both foreign ministers had already handed their applications to the NATO in the organisation’s headquarters in Brussels.
And while the act was dubbed a ‘historic moment which NATO should seize,” as asserted by the Secretary-General, Mr. Stoltenberg, one is perhaps not taking cognisance of the true cost of admitting Finland and Sweden.
But then, is there a cost as such? Is there a glaring reality that is being overlooked by the US and NATO in readying to accept Finland and Sweden, which may perhaps leave Russia black-eyed?
That said, let us understand the prime positive of admitting the two Nordic nations.
The act of admission, truthfully speaking, is purely symbolic; it indicates a unified democratic stance of Europe against Russia’s aggression in the East. It does give a clear signal to Putin that his oppressive means are being condemned and in no uncertain terms.
But then this alliance may not technically be any fruitful. There already exists strong, even vehement opposition towards the Finnish admission into the NATO and this comes from the end of Turkey. Secondly, it is isn’t entirely clear whether the two nations are actually at risk of Russian oppression, let alone an act of bitter aggression given the fact that for the longest time, the two have maintained their neutral status as well as the domestic defense capacity to avert crises.
Though what’s foremost important and hence, at the heart of Finland and Sweden’s admission into the NATO is what is stated by Article 10 (North Atlantic Treaty). It clearly states that new admissions may be granted for as long as countries contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area.
It is only on that count where one notes that the membership is beneficial, particularly to Finland. Now how is that?
Besides being among the few countries in Europe that continued the culture of conscription into the post-Cold war period, Finland actually happens to have the largest artillery in all of Europe, a fact that’s often understated. Moreover, the country has far more military capabilities or competencies as how some would note than Sweden.
But a logic that may fuel the doubts of those who already view Finland and Sweden’s possible addition into NATO with a circumspect glare is that while both countries have spoken of boosting their military might, it is highly unlikely that they may actually not do so, which won’t taste like some pudding to NATO.
For after all, the addition into a group should also bolster NATO’s self-defence capabilities- right?