During the past week, further details emerged about Finland’s and Sweden’s intention to join NATO, until the nations formally submitted the paperwork on Tuesday. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called it “a historic moment” and it really marks a significant transition from neutrality for these two countries.
One implication of the war in Ukraine is that long-standing neutral European nations, which have avoided joining security alliances, have now decided that this will no longer give them the protection they had previously expected. They see their much larger neighbor’s military shadow looming large.
At present, however, Turkey is blocking Sweden’s and Finland’s applications to NATO. However, its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, may be looking for concessions as part of the debate, explains Christoph Bluth, an expert on international relations and military history at Bradford University.
Turkey has positioned itself as a possible negotiator between Russia and Ukraine. This is partly due to Turkey’s economic and military ties to both countries, and some difficulties in positioning itself on one side or the other.
Like many nations, Turkey has established strong trade relations with Ukraine and Russia, and sees them both as important partners, and sees itself to some extent in an ideal position to act as a mediator in a peace agreement. Bluth describes how Turkey is cautious about Putin’s empire at its borders and has carefully rebuilt its relationship with the Russians, after a period during the Syrian civil war when they were in conflict.
Turkey’s ambivalence over Swedish and Finnish membership may be due in part to an attempt to assert its power in NATO, where new applicants can only join if all current members agree, but also to obtain some concessions from Sweden before offering their consent. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom and the United States have announced that they will defend Sweden and Finland if they are attacked by Russia. Having strength in numbers (by allies) is clearly an idea whose time has come again.
Accusations and prisoners
Historical echoes recur over this conflict. As nearly 1,000 Ukrainian troops are withdrawn from Mariupol and taken to Russian-controlled territory, voices from the Kremlin continue to refer to the invasion as a de-Nazification operation, while Russia’s lower house speaker Vyacheslav Volodin refers to captured Ukrainian soldiers as “Nazi criminals” stand trial.
As Marcia Zug, a professor of family law at the University of South Carolina, reports, accusations are also emerging that Ukrainian children have been forced out of their country by Russia. As points out Zug This tactic has been used in other wars, as well as by the US government against Indians. The Nazi practice of kidnapping “racially desirable children” from conquered lands and raising them as Germans has been well documented. If Russia forcibly adopts Ukrainian children, she says, the trauma of these abductions could extend for generations.
Food prices are soaring
At the same time, as the grain shortage becomes widespread due to the war, food prices have skyrocketed worldwide. The Lebanese people are suffering massively, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forcing millions of people close to starvation due to Lebanon’s great dependence on Ukrainian wheat. This is a country that has more than 75% of the population below the poverty line.
In Sri Lanka are people dies in food queues. The prices of essentials have fallen out of control in a few short months, partly due to the war. While in Iraq, flour prices has increased by a thirdand cooking oil costs skyrocketed, sparking protests.
The consequences of this war extend far beyond Ukraine’s borders, and further and further than we can ever calculate.
Author: Rachael Jolley – Order Editor, International Affairs