NATO’S Nordic Moment

A month before the invasion of Ukraine, on January 26, I wrote this in National Review on how getting Sweden and Finland to join NATO could help deter Putin: 

Offering them full membership in NATO will not only give them Article 5 security against any future Russian incursions along their border. It will give Putin something to worry about regarding his very vulnerable northern frontier. 

Now, two months into Putin’s invasion, it looks like what I urged is about to happen. According to a report in the Guardian, Sweden and Finland have agreed to submit simultaneous membership applications to the U.S.-led NATO alliance, perhaps as soon as mid-May. 

The response from Moscow has been thunderous threats if the two Nordics dare to take this step. Swedes and Finns realize there are indeed risks to joining NATO—one reason why neither has until now, even though their Nordic neighbors Norway and Denmark were founding members in 1949. Nearly one quarter of the prospective members’ combined land mass lies above the Arctic Circle. Both have to be wondering if other NATO members will really risk going to war under Article 5 if Russia makes an aggressive move so far from the center of Europe. In addition, Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia, along which Russians and Finns have fought for many years. If Russia was willing to risk all-out war to keep Ukraine out of NATO, skeptics ask, what will Moscow do to Finland when it votes to get in? 

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