Strategic Consequences of Sweden & Finland Membership in NATO

Strategic Council Online – Interview: Board member of Research Institute of Strategic Studies stated that Sweden and Finland membership in NATO will make security ambience of Europe more challenging. He said:” NATO strengthening will give the U.S. an upper hand to further contain China; because with further strengthening of unity and stronger military power of the European section of NATO, Europeans’ partnership will further boost to contain Russia, and the U.S. can concentrate on China’s containment with an upper hand”.

Mehdi Shapouri in an interview with the site of Strategic Council on Foreign Relations referred to the circulated news that Sweden and Finland will join NATO during Summer and stated:” Even during the cold war the two countries were not willing to join NATO and any of alliances of cold war era, and maintained their neutrality status amid the competitions between the West and the East. At present conditions, their decision for membership in NATO is strategic and has global consequences”.

Strengthening of NATO’s Power & Its Further Pervasive

Having stated that the membership of the two country will cause strengthening of NATO’s power and its further expansion, he said:” although Finland has neither a large population nor a large military budget, but it enjoys having a modern army.  In 1939, the small army of Finland alone, and at later stage with the collaboration of Germany managed to inflict major and numerous losses upon the USSR in the course of the World War II and against the large army of the Soviet Union. Sweden has also a modern army and an optimal industrial – technological infrastructure. Impressed by Ukraine developments, within the recent years the concern of the two countries about the Russian threats have increased, which has embodied in the rapid growth of their military expenditures”.

Shapouri continued:” After the war started in Ukraine, Finland increased its military budget from $ 3 billion to $ 5 billion and Sweden also increased its military budget from $ 5 billion to $ 7 billion. Moreover, Sweden stationed its military forces in Gotland Island, in the midst of Adriatic Sea simultaneous with stationing of Russian army along Ukraine borders two months ago. Dispatching military aids to Ukraine by Finland and Sweden are clear indicatives of their concern about the Russian threat”.

The expert of international affairs added:” Sweden and Finland are about to further empowering their armies. For example, Finland has signed a contract to purchase 64 F-35 fighters from the U.S.”.

Security & Military Challenges between Russia & Europe Become Serious

Shapouri called NATO expansion to the North of Europe as having negative consequences for Russia and continued:” Before the Soviet Union came into existence, Finland used to be a part of Tsarist Russia and it gained its dependence in 1917. Among European countries, Finland has the longest common border with Russia. From military and security points of view, it will be a serious threat against Russia if the country joins NATO. That’s why Russia has warned that if this happens, the country may deploy its nuclear arms as well as hypersonic missiles to Kaliningrad, a part of Russian territory along Baltic Sea. Therefore, security challenges between Europe and Russia will become more serious when Sweden and Finland join NATO as its members”.

NATO & the West Strengthening vis-à-vis Russia & China

Having stated that with further militarization of Baltic area will lead to more tensions between Russia and NATO, he considered the developments as the cause of NATO and the West strengthening vis-a-vis Russia and said:” the consequences of such developments at international level would be borne by the competitors of the West. It seems that NATO will be engaged in challenge with China too, as some of the European countries like Britain, France and Germany have already been stepped in this route”.

The expert of international affairs referred to the recent criticizing stances of China against NATO and added:” In addition to Russia, China also considers NATO expansion as a threat against itself, and in Russian war with the West and NATO, China will support Russia as much as possible. Yet, from economic and trade points of view, China is highly depended on the West and its allies, and thus vulnerable from this angle. Half of Chin’s trade is done with Europe and the U.S., and another major part of its trade is done with the Western allies and partners”.

He continued:” China is in a difficult situation and has not an upper hand against the West. That’s why its positions have been limited to verbal and it is not expected that any important change takes place in short term in this respect. In the meantime, China’s military capability is not to the extent to involve the country into a serious adversary with NATO and the West”.

Long Term Confrontation of the West & the East

The board member of Strategic Studies Research Center stated that during the cold war era, the confrontation of the East and the West was based on the confrontation of two ideologies. He said:” but at present time the same confrontation is being formed in another way, and this is the very same so-called confrontation between democracy and authoritarianism. It seems that the confrontation will last long. As Biden already called when he was in Poland, it may continue for decades”.

Having stated that NATO expansion and strengthening will clarify the new alignments in international system, he added:” on Ukraine war, it was expected that Kiev and the eastern part of Ukraine would fall quickly. But having enjoyed the West’s support, the will of Ukraine made trouble for Russia, as we witnessed its withdrawal from Northern regions of Ukraine. This is considered as a major failure for Russia as a great military power whose capabilities are mostly concentrated in military field”.

Shapouri emphasized:” the fate of the war and the eventuality of Russian efforts to achieve its goals in this war will leave great effects on the status of international system. If Russia is involved in a war of attrition in East Ukraine and suffers lots of political, military and economic losses, its position in international system will be weakened. Any weakening of power and position of Russia in international system will probably leave negative effects on China’s status too”.

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