Feature

Finland: Why we’re rethinking neutrality

Russia has been flexing its muscle in Scandinavia in recent months.

EditorialAamulehti

Is it time for Finland to join NATO? asked Aamulehti in an editorial. Russia has been flexing its muscle in Scandinavia in recent months, setting off alarms across the region. Russian warplanes skirted Swedish airspace in April and broached Finnish airspace last month. Then last week, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Finland and said “quite clearly” that if either Sweden or Finland were to join NATO, Russia would retaliate. “Pretty much the next sentence, he mentioned nuclear weapons.” In the case of Sweden, Shoigu may have reason to worry. Ever since a Swedish general announced a few months ago that Sweden would only “last a week” in the event of an invasion, the Swedes have been rethinking their neutrality. The most recent poll shows that now one-third of Swedes want to join the Atlantic alliance, up from one-quarter just two years ago. Finns, by contrast, have long had close ties to neighboring Russia, and Finnish public opinion has never trended toward NATO membership. “For some strange reason, however, the Russian leadership is doing all it can” to change that. “It is creating exactly the sort of threat” that could drive Finns into Atlantic arms. Russia is demanding that it not be provoked—so why is it provoking us?

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