Judy Asks: Is Finnish and Swedish NATO membership useful for European security?

Opinion piece (Carnegie Europe)
28 April 2022

Russia’s renewed attack on Ukraine has forced European countries to think about their own safety rather than grand designs for pan-European security architecture. Anything that makes it harder for Putin to threaten more European countries should be seen as useful.

For Finland and Sweden, even if Russia emerges from the current war capable of mounting further assaults on its neighbors (questionable, given the scale of its losses), NATO membership will make them more secure. Meanwhile, Finnish and Swedish membership will strengthen the alliance militarily and geographically.

Though Finnish and Swedish forces have been working alongside NATO for some years, they have not been able to count on NATO’s Article 5 defense guarantee and NATO has not been able to count on their availability in a crisis. They can now be integrated in NATO plans for defending the Baltic region, and they can benefit from the alliance’s deterrent posture.

For NATO, guaranteed access to Finnish and Swedish territory in a crisis would ease concerns about reinforcing the Baltic states and reduce the chances of a successful Russian attack. The only party to lose out will be Putin: Russia’s position in northeastern Europe will be significantly weakened. In itself, that is a good thing for European security.

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