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Turkey allows Sweden-Finland NATO membership. That’s a shame for the US

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When NATO alliance members meet in Madrid this week, one of the main items on the agenda will be Finland’s and Sweden’s request to officially join the alliance. NATO leadership has welcomed their rise, with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg saying the “membership of the two countries would enhance our shared security”. Although member state Turkey initially indicated it objected to the idea, it lifted its opposition after a breakthrough on Tuesday that clears the way for the Scandinavian states.

While it may seem sensible to expand NATO in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it doesn’t take much sober analysis to conclude that adding even more NATO members is likely to have the opposite effect of what the Secretary General hopes.

Rather than reducing the likelihood of war, Finland’s and Sweden’s membership would increase the risk of future conflict for the entire alliance; adding two more triggers to Article 5 — the NATO charter stipulation that an attack on one is an attack on all — would increase the risk of war for the entire alliance. That would be an unwise course in any case, but it is especially unwise because it would also make Finland and Sweden more vulnerable.

Russia poses no realistic threat to Sweden or Finland. Since World War II, Russia has not shown the slightest interest in territorial acquisition in either country, and in fact, Finland and Russia were friends during the Cold War. Russia, on the other hand, was consistently and emphatically clear for 15 years that it viewed any NATO expansion along its border into Ukraine or Georgia as an existential threat that it would use force to prevent — and has, in fact, twice (Georgia 2008 and Ukraine 2014† Thus, Georgia and Ukraine had reason to fear a Russian attack. Finland and Sweden do not.

Expanding NATO membership to these two countries would not only burden the US, which is expected to go to war on behalf of these two Nordic states if attacked. It would also cause problems for Helsinki and Stockholm. Until now, if war ever broke out between NATO and Russia, both Finland and Sweden would have been protected by their neutral status. If membership were extended to both, that protection would be gone.

If the two became NATO members and the alliance went to war with Russia in the future, both countries would almost immediately find themselves in armed conflict, whether they wanted to or not – and even if their national interests were not otherwise threatened. Given their status as NATO members, the Kremlin would almost certainly attack airports and ports in both countries to prevent other allies from using their facilities to launch attacks on Russia.

But there is an even more fundamental reason to be against alliance expansion at this point: it is not necessary. Russia has exposed itself as being shockingly weak in conventional military might, and it is now clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Russian ground forces do not even have the… capacity to invade the NATO alliance. It is not entirely clear whether Moscow will be able to the Donbas region, in the only country Ukraine, right on the border. Russia is limited in its ability to project power outside its country by: systemic defects in its logistics system. It is very difficult to get supplies from more than 180 miles and beyond that almost impossible without special rail connections.

Understandably, people living near Russia would fear that Russia would one day invade them while it was invading Ukraine, undoubtedly causing Sweden and Finland to suddenly reverse their long-held preference for neutrality. But an emotionless evaluation of their neighborhood shows that their fears are misplaced. Sweden and Finland are at no greater risk of attack from Moscow than they have been in the past 70 years.

Although the US has also recently shown eagerness to expand its alliance with these countries, it is difficult to say that the accession of Sweden and especially Finland furthers the US national interest. Finland shares a border of about 800 miles with Russia that NATO should defend, and this defense – or the stationing of NATO’s military infrastructure in Finland – would risk antagonizing Russia.

Washington should at least be clear that if Finland joins NATO, it expects Europeans to be tasked with defending the Finnish border, as the US already is. doing too much for the defense of rich and capable European countries.

However, all this does not mean that Russia does not pose a threat to Europe. It does. But the nature of the threat is not conventional military might; it’s the massive one Russian nuclear arsenal bringing the US and Europe into one Armageddon type scenario

Author Harry Kazianis took part in a US government exercise in 2019 that ultimately saw NATO and Russia come to nuclear blows amid a war scenario in Ukraine — and the study predicted that at least 1 billion people would be killed in the ensuing exchange (regardless of who fired the first shot).

The conventional Russian military has now been exposed as too weak to significantly threaten NATO as it stands, and Finland and Sweden are not clearly threatened by Moscow if they stay out of the alliance — while the risk of nuclear escalation if they join, our country could destroy. country and theirs. The US has great incentive to resist the hasty emotional desire to expand NATO at this time. The risk to our national security is great, while the benefit is nonexistent.

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