Finland has joined NATO, but campaigners warn that it will increase tensions internationally. Meanwhile, Turkey is still blocking Swedish membership as supposed allies jostle between themselves.
Helsinki’s shift ended decades of military non-alignment. The move also doubled the length of the US-led alliance’s land border with Russia, and drew an angry warning of “countermeasures” from the Kremlin.
Finland’s foreign minister formally sealed Helsinki’s membership as the Finnish flag was raised outside NATO’s Brussels headquarters.
Finland has a history of conflict with Russia, whose brutal war in Ukraine helped shift the country towards NATO membership. However, some campaigners warn that membership will increase tensions between the US and Russia.
As a full member, Finland will be subject to NATO’s Article Five. This means that any attack on a member state will be treated as an attack on all member states.
Stop the War Coalition’s Andrew Murray wrote:
NATO’s policy is set by Washington. US power underwrites the alliance’s every move. Ultimately, the US is responsible for the illegal NATO aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999, the disastrous 20-year NATO occupation of Afghanistan and the equally catastrophic NATO attack on Libya in 2011.
While Britain and France played a prominent part in some of these aggressions, they would have been unable to act without US support.
So whether or not NATO membership protects Finland from Russia, the Baltic state’s future is now tied to the whims of the US.
Finland will now be committed to such policies in future. The list of NATO aggressions should remind us that it is not a defensive alliance, nor does it confine its military operations to the North Atlantic.
NATO members are continuing to bicker among themselves about who can join. Sweden’s membership is being held back by Turkey and Hungary.
Sweden has upset Hungary’s leader Viktor Orban – one of Putin‘s closest allies in Europe – by expressing alarm over the rule of law in Hungary. It has also angered Turkey by refusing to extradite dozens of suspects that president Recep Tayyip Erdogan links to a failed 2016 coup attempt and the decades-long Kurdish independence struggle. Until these issues are dealt with, petty politicking will likely continue.
Internal friction is one thing. However, it is clear that Finland’s long border with Russia, Baltic location, and substantial military capacity could be a game-changer in Europe. And that’s before we consider Russia’s increased isolation and belligerent statements. If it is stability and security we want to see in Europe, it’s hard to see how NATO can deliver it.
Either way, Finland – and perhaps Sweden down the line – are now integrated into a rapacious US-dominated military alliance whose interests extend far beyond Ukraine.
Additional reporting by Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Levvuori, cropped to 770 x 403.