In an expected move, NATO has now accepted Finland’s and Sweden’s applications and formally invited the Nordic countries to join the alliance. In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the accession process for Helsinki and Stockholm has been accelerated and sidelined. critical issues deals with US security.
Of particular concern is the issue of Finland’s membership of NATO. Although every enlargement of NATO increases the US security burden, not every addition does so in the same way. It is of dubious wisdom to incorporate a country like Northern Macedonia – but at least the threats that Skopje faces are limited and it does not border on an adversarial state. The same cannot be said of Finland, which – unlike Sweden – shares an 830 km long border with Russia. Adding Finland would, in other words double the border between NATO and Russia.
And who would be commissioned to defend Finland’s border? Despite some new moves from European allies, including Germany, to beef up defense capability, it is worth noting that NATO remains a US-led alliance, with US troops stationed across the continentadd more NATO troops Eastern Front after Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine – and now sending even more American troops over. All this before Finland even becomes a member and thus adds more territory to defend. This issue should be discussed at the NATO summit in Madrid – and a wise policy would be for the United States to shift the burden of defending Finland’s border to Europeans, rather than risking American lives to defend Finland’s border.
Russia has previously acted against perceived threats in countries bordering the country. Of course, there is the current invasion of Ukraine, which should be understood as – at least in part – a response to the fact that even if Ukraine was not a member of NATO, NATO was in Ukraine. And Russia perceived this as a threat. In addition to the current invasion, Russia also sent troops to defeat what Moscow called a “color revolutionIn Kazakhstan earlier this year; before that, Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, as a result of the Euro Maidan protests and their fallout in Ukraine; before that, an invasion of Georgia in August 2008 after President George W. Bush promised NATO membership to Georgia just months before. A clear pattern emerges – Russia perceives Western design at its borders and is acting to prevent the supposed threat.
Finland has historically understood these risks. Not even a month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto warned that Helsinki joins NATO could risk escalating. Niinisto is also a man who at one point may have made one good mediator between Russia and Ukraine, given his professional relationship built over more than a decade with Vladimir Putin and Finland’s neutral position, to be allied with neither NATO nor Russia – all of this is, of course, fast becoming history.
The question is whether the United States understands these risks. Today, Russia’s conventional forces are occupied with Ukraine, but that will not always be the case. Russia would probably be able to recover, rebuild and reform its conventional force, incorporate lessons learned from Ukraine and become more effective. If Helsinki joins NATO and a bolder Russia tries to cut off a piece of Finland, would the United States be prepared to risk nuclear weapons Armageddon over a snowy part of the country?
Expanding US security commitments has made it possible for countries under the protection of the US military to neglect their own defense needs and made them dependent on Washington’s decisions. These security commitments infantilize countries that are often rich and capable – and that would actually be better allies if they were more autonomous. Whether Finland and Sweden become members of NATO or not, there should be more scrutiny of their potential membership and the United States should finally try shift the burden of Europe’s defense against Europeans.