Sweden and Finland: Nato accession in sight?

The changed security situation caused by the war in Ukraine has prompted Finland and Sweden, neutral countries so far, to think seriously about joining the Nato alliance. According to reports they will apply for membership as early as as mid-May. Europe's press debates the possible consequences.

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Kaleva (FI) /

Time to stock up on emergency supplies

Kaleva is worried:

“Although Russia will probably be caught up in the war in Ukraine for a long time to come, it would be naïve to believe that the Kremlin will stand idly by as Finland joins the 'enemy camp'. We should therefore be prepared for attempts to exert influence on us, which can range from threats using weapons and words to disruptions of our power grids or the internet. ... Long power cuts or problems with electronic payments never really posed a threat for the average Finn. Now they are to be expected. The advice to keep enough food supplies in the house to last a few days, candles and a battery-powered radio should also be taken seriously.”

Göteborgs-Posten (SE) /

Plenty of room for manoeuvre

Sweden has everything to gain from joining Nato, Göteborgs-Posten argues:

“Finally it should be noted that membership in the defence alliance does not have the same irreversible character of as EU membership. Nato is not based on institutions that are practically impossible for a small country to leave. Nato member countries have quite a lot of freedom when it comes to foreign policy positions, how much they want to invest in their defence or where they stand on nuclear weapons. ... The special nature of security policy demands that question of joining Nato should not be decided in a referendum but in indirect democracy - that is, in parliament.”

Aamulehti (FI) /

A democratic decision

Aamulehti is pleased that parliament will play a central role in the decision-making process:

“It would be naïve to believe that parliament would unanimously decide to join the defence alliance. That is unrealistic, and what's more not at all desirable in a democracy like Finland's. However, it is important that when the time comes parliament will have a sufficient consensus, broad-based internal support and of course the support of the government leaders responsible for security policy and the main governing parties. ... It is gratifying that parliament has now taken the helm on the alliance issue. This ensures that when it is taken, the decision will be made as democratically as possible.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Danger lurks in Kaliningrad

Corriere della Sera warns not to forget the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad:

“The geographical location of this area between Poland and Lithuania sends a shiver down one's spine. The port, one of the few areas of the Baltic where the sea does not freeze, houses the headquarters of the Russian fleet and - according to Western sources - submarines and missiles of various types, including nuclear-armed ones that could strike anywhere in Europe. The other important point about Kaliningrad is the 'Suwalki Gap', located on Polish territory, a corridor about a hundred kilometres long that separates the exclave from Belarus and is also the Baltic countries' only land connection with Europe.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Finland has taken the lead

The decision to join Nato has not been made yet but it is getting closer, Dagens Nyheter notes:

“Swedish Nato membership is by no means an attack on Russia. What it would mean is that any Russian aggression in the Baltic Sea region would be very costly for Moscow. Membership is a peacekeeping operation that increases stability in the region, which is particularly important now that Putin has revealed his ambitions. ... Wednesday did not produce a clear message. But the arguments for staying outside Nato are getting weaker. Finland has taken the lead. Finland has shown the way.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

This should give Russians food for thought

Ilta-Sanomat writes:

“Although Putin's war is being pompously described in propaganda material as a 'peacekeeping operation in Ukraine', Russian readers are learning through various articles that it is Russia's 'special operation' that has led to Finland's new position on Nato. Attentive readers will certainly notice that there must be something very wrong in Russia's own actions if even Finland, always so moderate and committed to good neighbourly relations, has begun to seriously seek Nato membership. Regardless of the outcome of the fighting in Ukraine, Finland and Sweden joining Nato would be a bitter defeat for Putin.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Expansion entails risks, non-expansion too

The Russian threat leaves the two countries with little choice, writes NRC Handelsblad:

“Accession will also lead to Nato troops being stationed on the Finnish-Russian border. And that is the last thing Putin wants to see in northern Europe. This week the Kremlin warned once again that if the two countries join Nato it will have detrimental consequences for peace and stability in Europe. The threat to Helsinki and Stockholm makes it clear that Nato must quickly offer protection to both countries. ... Nato's unplanned expansion in northern Europe says much about Moscow's colossal miscalculation in unleashing its bloody war on Ukrainian soil.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Nightmare for the Kremlin

Finland would be an attractive candidate for membership in the Western military alliance, writes commentator Cristian Unteanu in Adevărul:

“If Finland applies for membership one of Russia's nightmare scenarios will come true: it will share another 1,340 kilometre-long border with Nato. Finland would be an additional powerful member of Nato and not one with old and inefficient weapons systems that is constantly asking everyone for help. Bear in mind that Finland ordered 64 F-35 fighter jets last year and, as former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb recently stated, with a population of 5.5 million, it has a real and rapid capacity to mobilise 280,000 to 300,000 persons.”

ABC (ES) /

A political dilemma

ABC is happy for Sweden and Finland but questions why Ukraine should not also be allowed to join Nato:

“The Kremlin has issued more or less explicit threats warning these two countries against Nato accession, because it wrongly interprets such a move as an expansionist and aggressive policy against its interests. ... Accelerated accession will pose a certain political dilemma given the stance that the Alliance has adopted in the face of the desperate cries for help from Ukraine - the country that is actually being attacked, and which has no prospects of being able to join the organisation any time soon.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Bans on thinking now also passé in Switzerland

The Armed Forces of neutral Switzerland plan to expand their operations in the digital field with an initiative called 'Overall Cyber Concept'. This is a good opportunity to intensify cooperation with other armies, writes the NZZ:

“What is almost completely missing are considerations on how the Swiss Armed Forces can dock onto Nato systems. Until now, the political framework conditions were simply not in place. However, this has changed. Switzerland is renegotiating the concept of neutrality. Closer cooperation with its military neighbours is suddenly conceivable once more. ... Now is the right moment to create favourable conditions: for a digitalised new edition of the shelved concept of 'security through cooperation'. The time of bans on rethinking security policy is over.”