Finland becomes NATO’s 31st member
New world order may more NATO activity for Norway
Norwegian experts called it historic when Finland was formally incorporated into NATO on April 4 and believe Sweden will soon follow suit. At the same time, it could lead to increased NATO activity in Norway.
“It is a historic event. Primarily for Finland, but also for European security,” said Karsten Friis, a researcher at Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt (Norwegian Institute for International Affairs), to NTB. NATO is one of his areas of expertise, and he has served for the defense alliance in Kosovo.
“Finland has now joined a collective deterrent against Russia and will bring both resources and experience into the alliance,” said Friis.
Much to learn from Finland
Researcher Karen-Anna Eggen at the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies is writing her doctoral dissertation on Russia’s information confrontation and information operations in the Nordic region. She says it was historic for Finland to say goodbye to its non-aligned era.
“In contrast to most other countries in Europe, which reduced their defenses after the end of the Cold War, Finland chose to keep a strong and large defense. With this, there will probably be good lessons learned that are useful now,” said Eggen to NTB.
“The balance of power does not change radically, but it is clearly in NATO’s favor, as Finland’s entry has major consequences for the security political landscape in Northern Europe. In other words, a good day for the NATO alliance and a clear signal to Russia about the consequences of its policy and brutal warfare in Ukraine,” she said.
Not much Russia can do in the short term
Friis maintains that it is Vladimir Putin’s fault that Finland has now been incorporated into NATO. The Finns wanted to join NATO after they saw Russia go into full-scale war against Ukraine. Like Norway, Finland shares a border with Russia. But while Norway’s border is 123 miles long, the border between Finland and Russia is 808 miles long.
“Ironically, it is Russia that has made this happen. As so often is the case, Putin’s actions have had an unintended effect. Western unity has probably never been stronger than now,” Friis said.
He said that there is not much Russia can do to react to this in the short term.
“Almost all their forces are busy in Ukraine. In the longer term, they can probably build up a stronger defense against Finland,” said Friis.
Warns of non-military responses
Eggen agrees that Russia has little to retaliate with in the short term. She maintains that Russia is not happy that the relatively short border with NATO countries in Europe has now become twice as long.
“In the short term, it is therefore more likely that reactions will come in the form of rhetorical threats and use of the cyberattacks or other non-military means to create unrest and uncertainty and mark dissatisfaction,” Eggen said.
She pointed out that Finland is now covered by NATO’s Article 5, which states that an attack on one country is an attack on all.
“Finland also has very good knowledge of Russia, which will come in handy in the tense security political situation Europe finds itself in,” Eggen said.
May increase NATO activity in the North
Eggen agrees that the NATO expansion strengthens Norwegian and Nordic security but believes it could also affect Norway in other ways.
“At the same time, it isn’t certain that Norway alone can still claim the title ‘NATO’s eyes and ears in the North.’ The Nordic region gains increased strategic importance, and this can lead to stronger elements of allied politics and activity of the type over which we don’t necessarily have as much control,” she said.
“Finland’s and eventually Sweden’s, entry into NATO will also most likely kick off discussions about Norwegian deterrence and appeasement policy, the very cornerstone of Norwegian policy and balancing act vis-à-vis Russia. Here, the [Nordic] countries have historically chosen different approaches, and it will be exciting to see if a more cohesive Nordic approach is obtained within the framework of NATO,” said Eggen.
Also see: Stoltenberg om en historisk dag for NATO in the May 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.
This article originally appeared in the May 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.