NATO Should Admit Finland and Sweden ASAP

Finland and Sweden will soon apply to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. When they do, the allies will first deliberate collectively and then begin the ratification process among members. They should move quickly to close any opportunities that Russia might exploit before these two filings are clouded by NATO’s Article 5 mutual defense pledge and the US nuclear umbrella.

Inviting both countries into the alliance would further complicate NATO defense planning. Although Finland and Sweden work as closely with NATO as any other member can, extending Article 5 to them will require detailed and careful planning. This is especially the case inland when it comes to Finland, with its 830-mile border with Russia, and over the sea when it comes to Sweden, considering the thousands of islands it has in the Baltic Sea, including including the strategically important Gotland. .

Even after 73 years, the North Atlantic alliance remains important to the United States for three reasons. First, it is the best means of ensuring the stability and security of the transatlantic economic relationship. Trade in goods and services between the United States and the European Union is nearly twice that between the United States and China.

Second, the alliance represents a community of shared values. Democracy, the rule of law, individual liberties and national sovereignty are the cornerstones of the alliance, reflected in the treaty that established NATO and repeated by allied leaders at every summit.

Third, America’s allies help share the burden of defending and promoting common interests. During the surge in Afghanistan a decade ago, European allies provided a third of ground troops. More recently, the imposition of sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine would not have had nearly the same effect if the Europeans, who bear the brunt of the economic ties of Russia, would not have had the same effect. surname with Russia – not present on board.

Finland and Sweden’s membership in NATO underpins each of these commands. Both are members of America’s largest trade and investment partner, the EU. Sweden has the ninth-largest economy out of the 27 EU members, while Finland ranks 15th. Both are home to cutting-edge manufacturing and tech start-up communities.

Finland and Sweden are among the strongest democracies in the world. The biggest threat to freedom in Europe today is Russia, which has invaded neighboring democracies such as Ukraine and Georgia and attempted to subvert democracy across the Continent. Given their proximity to this threat, Finland and Sweden understand this well.

Their views are especially important as the coalition revises its strategy and debates whether and how to gain the right to collective self-defense against its two other core missions – integrated security. and crisis management. It is also important in the debate over where NATO should focus its efforts between the multifaceted Russian threat on the one hand and the challenges posed by terrorists and NGOs on the other. cause. The membership of Finland and Sweden in the alliance should strengthen NATO’s resolve to prioritize the Russian threat. This will likely be welcomed by Washington, given its focus on strategic competition with Russia (and China).

When it comes to burden-sharing, Finland and Sweden have proven themselves up to the task. If they join the alliance, it would mark the first time since Spain’s accession in 1986 that NATO will expand to countries likely to be a net contributor to security. Both countries have decided to increase defense spending in recent times, despite the challenges posed by the recession caused by the pandemic.

Both Finland and Sweden have small but advanced professional militaries. Finland has a concentrated military force on the ground, including a national militia system that can produce a force of 216,000 men. Sweden’s force is somewhat smaller, but it has recently reinstated its national service to strengthen its military capabilities and there are plans to expand Sweden’s force structure. Both countries contribute to the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force, a multinational force capable of carrying out a variety of missions. Both participated in NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, and Sweden joined NATO’s mission to protect civilians in Libya.

Given their ability and track record to participate in multinational military missions, Finland and Sweden’s membership in NATO will likely lead to improved transatlantic burden sharing. This is especially important as the United States ramps up efforts in the Indo-Pacific theater.

Finland and Sweden’s Allied membership deserves careful consideration and consideration. However, it is clear from the perspective of the United States and its allies that Finland and Sweden’s membership will strengthen NATO at a time when its values ​​and interests are at stake.

Deni is a research professor at the American War College’s Institute for Strategic Studies, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, and the author of “The Coalition of Those Who Don’t Want and Don’t Impossible: European Reorganization and the Future of American Geopolitics.”

Editorial Review: The Week’s Best and Worst from Kim Strassel, Mene Ukueberuwa, Mary O’Grady and Kyle Peterson. Image: President of Ukraine / Zuma Press / Picture Alliance / Getty Images Synthesis: Mark Kelly

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