The geopolitical effects of NATO expansion: the case of Finland

The geopolitical effects of NATO expansion: the case of Finland

The article means that “an armed attack against one or more members shall be considered an attack against all of them”. an article imposed only once in NATO’s history, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001.

In the evolving security environment, Russia’s military attack on Ukraine is seen as a clear attack, but NATO’s Russia policy over the past 25 years has also been characterized as arrogant and callous, and can be blamed for the current situation. Scholars who advocate a realistic and restrained approach to US foreign policy have been warning about the expansion of the world’s strongest military alliance towards a superpower like Russia for more than a quarter century. The conflict in Ukraine, which represents a cause-and-effect relationship with NATO enlargement, is unequivocal testimony that these warnings were justified.

NATO’s first round of enlargement was called “the start of a new Cold War”. George F. Kennan, who is considered the originator of the isolationist policy pursued by the United States during the Cold War. With the alliance’s several rounds of expansion, the accession of the three Baltic republics was considered a provocative move. NATO’s Baltic expansion into these countries, which had historically been part of the Soviet Union and the Russian Tsarist Empire, placed it strategically on the border of the Russian Federation. As a result, Vladimir Putin had stated that NATO enlargement “represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust”. Additionally, in 2013 and 2014, the Obama administration’s meddling in Ukraine’s political affairs to support protesters to oust a pro-Russian president led to significant tensions and reactions from Moscow that led to the annexation and annexation of Crimea.

The way Washington handled its relationship with Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union was seen as a huge mistake. It was easy to foresee that NATO expansion would inevitably lead to a damaging and potentially violent confrontation with the Kremlin, with several negative consequences. The current cost of the short-sightedness and arrogance of the US foreign policy establishment is now being paid for by the eight-year history of the conflict in Ukraine, which has led Russia to war against Ukraine since February 2022.

As part of NATO’s ninth round of expansion, Finland has officially joined NATO on April 4, 2023, and it is ready to compensate for the gap in the organization’s defense planning in its eastern region, considering that Finland has 1,340 kilometers. border with Russia. With this move, Finland has finally renounced its long-standing commitment to military non-alignment and neutrality preserved during the Cold War. Finland’s possible accession to NATO and Sweden’s expected accession can significantly change the geopolitical landscape. These countries are considered a valuable asset to Europe in terms of both military and political power. They have modern, well-equipped militaries and stable democratic institutions, making them reliable partners for NATO to strengthen regional security and stability in Northern Europe. However, there has been concern about how the growing militarization of the Nordic countries can affect the cooperation between the nations of the region and the future relations between the NATO member states and Russia.

Russia has warned of serious military and political consequences of this move, mainly over a territorial dispute over Åland, located between Finland and Sweden, which has been autonomous since 1856. It is expected that with the militarization of the Nordic countries, not only will Russia respond with increased militarization, but it will likely also have significant effects on the Arctic to the region’s economic and environmental agreements. It increases the risk of disrupting long-term Arctic cooperation and joint governance. As militarization increases, Arctic Council cooperation is at risk; a regional organization that cooperates on economic zone and environmental agreements, the destabilization of which is likely to have complex effects from the impact of climate change on the glaciers and sea ice of this remote region.

Russia has historically opposed NATO expansion in the region, so Finland’s accession is also predicted to have several geopolitical consequences. Although Finnish officials have stated that their decision to join NATO is due to their need to secure their country’s sovereignty and territorial borders without jeopardizing any other nation, Moscow most likely views this as a provocative measure, an aggressive act. against Russia.

Furthermore, against the backdrop of Ukraine’s aggression, Finland’s motivation for joining NATO is still an effort to expand its security measures beyond its national armies. The joining of the Nordic countries to NATO emphasizes the growing influence of the Baltic Sea region in the alliance’s security strategy. From Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, NATO has sought to expand its military presence in the region. The strategic location of Finland and Sweden in the Baltic Sea region provides NATO with important access to the Baltic Sea and the Arctic region, which is also critical in terms of transatlantic security. Thus, joining has been a significant step towards strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defense capabilities, especially in the Baltic region, which has proven to be a critical area of ​​security concern in Europe.

Since the expansionist nature of NATO is the background and strengthening relations with the countries of the Indian and Pacific region is a key part of the NATO 2030 agenda, the alliance also aims to enhance political dialogue and practical cooperation with Australia, Japan and the Republic of Korea. in Korea and New Zealand and also opened a liaison office in Japan. The strategic problems Russia faces because of NATO are likely to be reflected in the East with China, criticizing the Western alliance’s expansion into the Asia-Pacific region, with the aim of “carrying out the Cold War mentality and repeating the bloc confrontation”.

Finland’s accession to NATO symbolizes a decisive milestone in the alliance’s history and marks a significant change to the beginning of a new era. As the security environment develops in the 21st century, NATO also recognizes the need to modernize and strengthen its capacity. Although the move will prove to be significant in terms of improving the alliance’s defense and security capabilities and strengthening relations between North America and Europe, it may awaken an even stronger revisionist and aggressive Russian threat, the formation of an anti-NATO Russia. alliance and, as a result, a new cold war.

NATO’s expansionist trend was further reinforced at the recent NATO summit in Madrid in June 2022, where NATO defines Russia as the “most significant and immediate threat” and China as a “systemic challenge”. Although the world order changed in the post-Cold War era, the US has continued to support NATO with expansive legitimacy with the aim of ensuring US hegemony, leading the world to a realm of heightened tensions and dangerous confrontations.

Factor: Shreya Sinha

Shreya Sinha is a researcher and DAAD fellow at the Otto-Suhr Institut für Politikwissenschaft, Freie Universität Berlin. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in the fourth year of his PhD program at the Center for European Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.

This is an “Outlook” opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of The Helsinki Times. This column has not been verified and HT is not responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statements in this article.


Source: The Nordic Page

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