In a surprising announcement, Turkey was against Sweden and Finland joining NATO to stop Russia’s advance and threat. Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared this Friday that his country has no “positive opinionabout the two democracies joining the military defense bloc and accused the Scandinavian countries of harboring outlaw Kurdish militants.
“We don’t have a positive opinion. Scandinavian countries are like a guest house for terrorist organizationsErdogan told reporters after Friday prayers in Istanbul.
The diet of Finland to apply for NATO membership, announced on Thursday, and the hope that Sweden follow in his footsteps, it would cause the expansion of the Western military alliance that the Russian President Vladimir Poutine intended to prevent.
Erdogan expressed concern about the activities carried out in both countries by supporters of Kurdish separatist militants who have been fighting for decades for autonomy in the south-east Turkey.
Any extension of the NATO requires the unanimous approval of alliance members. Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952.
Russia launched its offensive in Ukraine to protest against a possible expansion of the NATO towards its borders, but it seems to have obtained the opposite effect, by pushing towards membership of Finland Yes Swedenwhich would reinforce the deterrence of Alliance.
This represents a small revolution in these Nordic countries. For decades most Swedes and Finns have advocated a policy of military non-alignment. The invasion of Ukraine changed this trend in their public opinions. The two countries now seem ready to take the plunge in an attempt to deter Russiawhich would constitute the most important extension of the NATO since the accession of the Baltic countries in 2004.
Membership is justified by the belligerent behavior of Moscowensures Michael Shurkinpolitical analyst and former member of the American secret service, the Inc..
Despite the “poor performance» of the Russian army in Ukraine“another war against one of Russia’s neighbors is not unlikely, it is a real possibility that those neighbors and their allies must prepare for», Assures the expert.
Despite their increasing efforts to have strong national defense capabilities, these two neutral countries would be left to fend for themselves in the event of Russian aggression. Yes Finland It has more than 1,300 kilometers of common border. From the point of view of helsinki Yes stockholmthe main interest is to benefit from the mutual protection of the allies in the event of an attack under article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
Like Sweden,Finland would get nuclear deterrent from NATO” when placed under the aegis of United States“something i couldn’t achieve alone“, precise Charly Salonius Pasternakspecialist of Finnish Institute of International Relations.
The two Nordic countries, members of the European Union (EU), cooperate with the NATO since 1994 under the program of the association for peace. They have also participated in joint exercises and some NATO operations such as Afghanistan or the Balkans.
“The accession of these two countries would strengthen NATO’s deterrent posture in the Arctic, Baltic and Nordic regions.“, estimate Leo MichelUS think tank researcher Atlantic Council.
Besides, “Finland and Sweden could bring their regional knowledge of Russia to NATO decision-making“, he adds. But helsinki Yes stockholm They also have significant military capabilities. Finland It has only 12,000 professional soldiers in its army, but it trains more than 20,000 conscripts a year and can count on a war army of 280,000 combat-capable soldiers, to which are added 600,000 reservists.
This exceptional strength for a European nation is complemented by a 40% increase in its military spending by 2026, a fleet of 55 F-18 fighter jets, which it plans to replace with American F-35s, 200 tanks and more than 700 artillery. The Swedish army has about 50,000 soldiers.. Compulsory military service, abolished in 2010, was partially reintroduced in 2017. And after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, it resumed investing in defence. In 2020, it represented 1.2% of GDP, compared to 2.6% in 1990.
However, Finland’s membership would represent hundreds of “additional kilometers of border to defend, a significant burden for NATO”, comments a European observer.
“Finland and Sweden (…) are net contributors to transatlantic, but also European security“, Points out a European diplomatic source within the Alliance, who sees in its possible membership the sign of a “growing responsibility of European States” in terms of defense.
(With information from Reuters and AFP).-