Finland and Sweden joining NATO will help deter Russia, security analyst says
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, here seen at a press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Helsinki, Finland, on Wednesday, signed a security pact with Finland just ahead of the European nation’s move to seek or not its NATO membership.
Frank Augstein | AFP | Getty Images
Finland and Sweden’s decision to join NATO will improve deterrence against Russia in northern Europe and bolster the security of the US-led military alliance, a NATO analyst told CNBC on Thursday. AtlanticCouncil.
His comments came just before Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced that their country should apply to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “without delay”.
“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a NATO member, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance,” they said in a joint statement.
A similar announcement from Sweden is expected later this week.
“Sweden and Finland joining NATO will increase deterrence in the region because of the assets they will provide to the alliance. And [because of] the ability to plan the security of Northern Europe holistically,” said Anna Weislander, Atlantic Council Director for Northern Europe.
Joining the political and military alliance will be a historic decision for Finland, which shares a 1,300 kilometer border with Russia. The Nordic Nation adopted neutrality after its defeat by the Soviet Union in World War II. Sweden, too, has not been part of any military alliance for over 200 years.
Weislander said the two countries were well prepared to deal with the oft-repeated political and military threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin opposing their membership.
“President Putin and Russia have already said on several occasions that there will be military and political consequences,” she said on “Capital Connection”, adding that she expected more warnings from this guy in the next few days.
“We have prepared. We have moved military installations…and we expect [Russian] cyberattacks, electronic jamming or other airspace intrusions,” she said, noting that Sweden and Finland are members of the European Union.
“Sweden and Finland are strong democracies with sophisticated economies and will therefore also contribute to the underlying values of the alliance,” Weislander said.
The armed forces of the two countries also enjoy high compatibility with NATO member states, she added.
“Interoperability” with NATO members
“Finland is already a security provider. It has a strong army, it is small but technically sophisticated. Not only can it defend itself despite a long border with Russia, but it has also, alongside Sweden, worked with NATO on international missions from the Balkans to Afghanistan, and they trained a lot,” Weislander said.
Both countries are “operable” as members of NATO, she said.
“[They] have worked with NATO since the mid-1990s in international missions,” the analyst said, citing those in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Libya. “They have also participated in advanced exercises with NATO, such as Trident Juncture. And there were hundreds of other exercises.”
“So their interoperability is not an issue,” Weislander said.
Sweden and Finland also cooperate closely on defense based on NATO standards, she added.
If the two countries joined NATO, it would signal NATO’s “open door” policy, Weislander said.
“When countries are ready to join and can contribute to the security of the entire transatlantic space, then [NATO] will also be ready to welcome new members. There will be no closed door for NATO,” she said.