how the West is pushing Finland and Sweden to join NATO – International News

Sweden and Finland should seize the opportunity to join NATO while Russia conducts a special operation in Ukraine, former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. Moscow repeatedly reminded these neutral countries of the consequences of their probable membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In particular, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that if they join the bloc, both states will become a space for confrontation between NATO and Russia. Experts note that Stockholm and Helsinki, in principle, could have joined the alliance for a long time, but the inhabitants of these countries were against it. Now Euro-Atlantic politicians are actively pushing them towards this decision, pursuing the goal of NATO expansion to the east, analysts add.

Finland and Sweden should seize the opportunity to join NATO while Russia is focused on conducting a military operation in Ukraine. This opinion was expressed in an interview with the American television channel CNBC by the former secretary general of the alliance, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

“As for Finland and Sweden, I think right now both countries have the opportunity to join NATO, because Putin’s attention is focused on something else,” Rasmussen said.

If Stockholm and Helsinki decide to apply for membership in the bloc, he said, the Russian president “can’t do anything about it.”

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At the same time, even with the urgent consideration of applications, the process of possible accession to NATO by Sweden and Finland may take several months, since documents will need to pass through all 30 parliaments of the bloc’s member countries, the Danish politician added. And during this period, the alliance will have to guarantee the security of Stockholm and Helsinki, as if they were already members of NATO, Rasmussen believes.

In turn, CIA director William Burns recently also spoke about the entry of these countries into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Speaking at a forum organized by The Financial Times, he said that Russia’s position will not be a deterrent to the admission of Sweden and Finland to NATO.

“We must take seriously all the issues that he (Vladimir Putin. — RT) raises, but I think none of this will become a deterrent if Finland and Sweden decide to move in this direction, and then NATO decides to increase the number of members and include them, ”TASS quotes the CIA director.

Atlantic Front

It is worth noting that representatives of the political establishment in the US and Europe have already made statements that they expect Stockholm and Helsinki to join the alliance as soon as possible. Moreover, such theses sounded even before the start of the special operation in Ukraine.

The same Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated in January 2022 that a decision on the application of these countries could be made as soon as possible.

“If Finland and Sweden apply for membership, we can make a decision literally in one day. You can become a NATO member state the very next day because you meet all the necessary criteria,” Rasmussen said in a comment to the Finnish portal Yle.

A similar position was voiced at the beginning of the year by US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland.

“I have worked under five administrations and I think we have always said to Finland and Sweden: “Any time you want to discuss NATO membership, we are ready to do it,” Nuland said at a briefing at the US State Department.

At the same time, according to her, in the process of accepting these states into the bloc, it is necessary to determine how they comply with NATO standards.

“Obviously, they are long-established, stable democracies. So the dialogue with them will be somewhat different from the ongoing with countries that are just making the transition to democratic systems and solving such serious problems as corruption, economic reform and democratic stability, ”Nuland emphasized.

This agenda has been repeatedly promoted by the current Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg. At the end of April, he once again announced that Finland and Sweden would be accepted into NATO “with open arms.”

“Finland and Sweden are our closest partners. These are strong and mature democracies, members of the European Union, and we have been cooperating with Finland and Sweden for many years. We know that their armed forces meet NATO standards,” Stoltenberg said at a joint press conference with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola.

The alliance’s secretary general added that if Stockholm and Helsinki decide to apply, they “will be warmly welcomed.” Also, according to him, they should expect that the entry procedure will be quick.

Rejection of neutrality

Recall that after the end of World War II, Sweden and Finland were in the status of neutral countries, which they retained even after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the end of the Cold War. Recently, however, the attitude of the population of both countries towards a possible rejection of the neutral status has begun to change.

Thus, according to a public opinion poll conducted by the Novus Institute and published on April 21, 51% of Swedes were in favor of joining NATO. A week earlier, according to the same institute, 45% of those polled voted for joining the bloc.

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In turn, in Finland, according to a survey by the organization Kantar TNS, commissioned by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat on April 22-27, the number of supporters of joining NATO has grown to 65%. A similar poll conducted by Kantar TNS from 18 to 23 March showed that 54% of Finns were in favor of membership in the bloc.

Russia has repeatedly emphasized that the entry of these countries into the North Atlantic Alliance will lead to increased tension in the region. For example, Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, noted in mid-April that the refusal of Sweden and Finland from the neutral status would directly call into question the non-nuclear status of the Baltic.

“If Sweden and Finland join NATO, the length of the land borders of the alliance with the Russian Federation will more than double. Naturally, these boundaries will have to be strengthened. Seriously strengthen the grouping of ground forces and air defense, deploy significant naval forces in the waters of the Gulf of Finland. In this case, it will no longer be possible to talk about any non-nuclear status of the Baltic – the balance must be restored, ”Medvedev wrote in his Telegram channel.

In turn, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, in an interview with the Spanish edition of ABC, said that the essence of NATO’s existence is “a geopolitical confrontation with Russia,” and any country that joins the alliance will be involved in this confrontation.

“If Finland and Sweden join the alliance, they will turn into a space for confrontation between the North Atlantic bloc and Russia, with all the ensuing consequences, including for our time-tested good neighborly relations,” Zakharova said.

The diplomat added that NATO has long been actively “processing” these two countries.

“In order to radically influence the policy of states, NATO diligently molded the image of an enemy out of Russia. Although in fact it was the alliance that created a threat to the security of our country. We have been warning our northern European neighbors that their involvement in the NATO orbit threatens to unbalance the European security system regularly and for quite some time. This is not “a topic of recent weeks,” the representative of the foreign ministry emphasized.

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The first deputy head of the international committee of the Federation Council, Vladimir Dzhabarov, in an interview with RT, noted that Sweden “although it was a neutral country, it always followed in line with the policies of NATO and Western countries,” while Finland and Russia have always had close friendly and mutually beneficial economic relations.

“We expected that this country was friendly to us, and treated it as a friend, without any plans of an aggressive nature. By becoming a member of NATO, Finland will lose this status. It cannot be a member of NATO and consider itself friendly to Russia… It seems to me that this is not in favor of the people of Finland and not in favor of our relations,” Dzhabarov added.

Containment policy

External recommendations to neutral countries on NATO membership from former and current functionaries of this bloc, as well as other representatives of the Atlantic establishment, are inappropriate, says a member of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, retired Major General Pavel Zolotarev.

“For the leadership of NATO, it is not entirely correct to urge countries to join the alliance in this way. We have already seen what the attempts of such intensive integration into the bloc lead to on the example of Georgia and Ukraine. This is an internal affair of states, and external recommendations and wishes are inappropriate, especially in this situation, ”the expert emphasized in a commentary to RT.

According to him, the growing interest of these countries in NATO membership, which is now being demonstrated, is explained by an emotional reaction to the situation around Ukraine, and not by a rational decision.

In turn, Vladimir Bruter, an expert at the International Institute for Humanitarian and Political Studies, believes that the statements made by Rasmussen and other Western politicians are designed to force certain events that are beneficial to Washington.

“There is no window of opportunity, because it has always existed: NATO has always wanted Sweden and Finland to join it. They simply could not do it, since the public and political opinion was not set to join the alliance, ”the political scientist noted.

At the same time, NATO will always advocate expansion, as the bloc wants to control as much military space as possible, Bruter explained.

“They will always be determined to contain Russia and will always create an information picture where everyone supports them and everyone is moving towards Moscow as a united front. Now Sweden and Finland are a good chance for the alliance to reinforce its intentions. Therefore, he drives them on, talking about a window of opportunity, ”the expert emphasized.

This can only affect stability in the region in a negative way, Bruter added.

“As long as the West believes that it can contain Russia further, it will move in this direction. Only after he begins to fear a response from Russia will he behave more moderately, ”the analyst concluded.


Source: RT на русском by russian.rt.com.

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