Finland and Sweden: reinforcement for Nato?

Putin's threat of a 'strong reaction' in the event of Nato enlargement has mat with a bitter response in Helsinki and Stockholm. Even if majorities in the traditionally neutral states of Finland and Sweden still oppose Nato accession, this could change rapidly, commentators observe.

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Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

A clear position against Putin's expansionism

Eesti Päevaleht praises the Finnish president's clear words in his New Year's address in which he opened up the possibility of Nato membership for Finland:

“Niinistö delivered a real bombshell message in his New Year's address. 'And let it be stated once again: Finland's room to manoeuvre and freedom of choice also include the possibility of military alignment and of applying for Nato membership, should we ourselves so decide', the Finnish president said. Niinistö's statement has received a lot of attention internationally. Some analysts interpret it as an indication that Finland will apply to join Nato if Russia attacks Ukraine. So much for spheres of influence according to Russia's wishes.”

Lapin Kansa (FI) /

Helsinki should take the initiative

It's time for an open debate on Finland's Nato membership, demands Lapin Kansa:

“In the new situation, Finland must weigh the pros and cons of Nato membership and seriously think about the best time to apply. The process is not easy and could take years. What is needed is an open and courageous debate on issues we have tended to keep quiet about so far. The importance of the Western defence alliance has grown now that the EU has proved to be a paper tiger also in military matters. ... The majority of the population has so far spoken out against membership. ... If the Finnish leadership takes the initiative, the citizens may quickly change their minds.”

Pravda (SK) /

Moscow pushing even neutral states towards Nato

Russia is actually strengthening the North Atlantic Defence Alliance with its aggressive approach, Pravda writes:

“The conflict in eastern Ukraine, the constant encroachments on airspace and territorial waters, and not least Russia's military manoeuvres are worrying Sweden and Finland to such an extent that they are rethinking their defence policy. Sweden already signed a defence pact with Nato founding members Norway and Denmark last September. ... The mood is also changing in Finland, which tried its best to accommodate the Soviet Union during the Cold War in order to preserve its independence. ... If Russia intensifies its provocations, traditionally neutral countries may seek refuge in Nato.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

The mood is changing only gradually

Gazeta Wyborcza still doesn't believe Sweden and Finland will join Nato any time soon:

“Stockholm and Helsinki want to keep open the option of joining the North Atlantic Alliance while maintaining their neutrality. ... However, this doesn't mean that the two Scandinavian capitals are likely to apply to join Nato in the near future. ... In Finland, support for Nato membership is slowly increasing, but polls show that 40 percent of the population is still in favour of neutrality, or in other words, against Nato membership, while 26 percent want to join the alliance. In Sweden, 33 percent want to join the Alliance, while 35 percent are against it. But it should be noted that only five years ago, 50 percent of Swedes were against Nato membership.”