Russia’s aggressive attack on Ukraine has forced the whole of Europe and the United States to change their military strategy. This has increased the challenges of their military organization NATO and also deepened the fears about the security of Europe.
Sweden and Finland have now expressed their willingness to join NATO amid the Ukraine crisis. If these two countries join NATO, it will be a major strategic defeat for Russia. President Vladimir Putin does not want to allow further expansion of NATO. The Ukraine crisis also started with these fears. In such a situation, Finland’s attempt to join NATO can push the world to the brink of world war. Significantly, Scandinavia is an ancient plateau. It also includes Norway and Sweden. Its slope is generally towards the east. To the east of Sweden is Finland and to the east of Finland is Russia. Finland shares a border of about thirteen hundred kilometers with Russia.
In fact, the core belief of collective security is that wars cannot be ended, but can be prevented by controlling power. That is why NATO and the Warsaw Pact were formed, the Cold War began and this process continues unabated. Russia’s aggressive targeting of Ukraine, which is in Eastern Europe, has forced the whole of Europe and the United States to change their military strategy. Due to this, the challenges of their military organization NATO have increased and the fears about the security of Europe have also deepened. This threat has taken a serious form because NATO still does not have any protective shield to protect Europe from Russia’s ballistic missiles, tactical nuclear missiles and nuclear attacks.
NATO’s eyes are on the Scandinavian peninsula, the Baltic and the Nordic countries that touch Russia’s border with countries that broke away from the Soviet Union. Putin sees these intentions of NATO as attempts to break Russia. The root cause of the Ukraine conflict was also the country’s efforts to join NATO. Putin wants NATO to stop its military activities in Eastern Europe, while NATO is not ready to accept these demands of Russia. NATO has kept them combat-ready with the deployment of its forces in Poland and Romania to fortify the eastern borders. There are already NATO fighter groups with state-of-the-art weapons in the Baltic countries to attack Russia.
NATO has also increased air surveillance in the Baltic countries and Eastern Europe to stop Russian aircraft trying to enter member states’ airspace. Russia has been saying that NATO security forces should leave these areas. With regard to Finland and Sweden, Russia has also made it clear that if NATO deploys weapons in these areas, then it will deal strictly. If Finland and Sweden are included in the military alliance of thirty countries, then NATO forces will come very close to Russia. The Russo-Ukraine war is going on near the eastern border of NATO territory.
NATO is a military alliance of European countries. In this, members have been added to increase the strategic power according to the geographical location. Finland and Sweden were until now safe countries for Russia, but now Finland does not trust Russia at all. The root cause of this is Russia’s military action on Ukraine. Russia asked Ukraine to find a strategic solution and then attacked it.
This has had a great impact on Russia’s neighbors. They are now looking apprehensive about Russia. Finland broke away from Russia in 1917 and became an independent country. It feels that Russia can affect its sovereignty like Ukraine. Finland’s rivalry with Russia is old and it also fought against Russia during World War II. Also that Sweden and Finland have been official allies of NATO since 1994, although this is considered a separate status from full membership.
Both countries have participated in several NATO operations since the end of the Cold War. NATO’s ‘wait and see’ policy of Russia’s aggression in the Ukraine crisis has proved to be strategically dangerous for Europe. NATO works on the principle of collective defence. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance formed in 1949, whose basic principle is that if one member country is attacked, the rest of the countries will come forward to help. As soon as Finland and Sweden become full members of NATO, NATO will be committed to their security and in such a situation, the possibility of a nuclear conflict between NATO and Russia cannot be ruled out.
At the recent Madrid summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that NATO member states have agreed on a fundamental change in deterrence and defence. There is also a maritime security in these fundamental changes, and along with Russia, China has also emerged as a big challenge before NATO. NATO has been very aggressive in the Mediterranean Sea extending to Western Europe, Southern Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. NATO has deployed state-of-the-art ships and submarines in the Mediterranean Sea by conducting a maritime security operation under the name Sea Guardian. Security of the Asia-Pacific region is also now a priority for NATO and the US and their strategic cooperation at sea with India, Japan, Australia and South Korea has increased.
It is also interesting to note that NATO and the US have not yet succeeded on any strategy to put Russia under pressure, amid global tensions, while Putin has been more successful in cementing his own political and strategic position in his country. Putin signed a new national security paper in 2016, which described the expansion of NATO as a threat to Russia.
Russia reviews its national security policy every six years. Russia announced a change in its military policy in 2014 to deal with the Ukraine crisis and the growing NATO interference in Eastern Europe. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 was Putin’s biggest victory and a humiliating blow to the West. After this, Putin raised the concern of NATO and America on many other military fronts. Russia’s military intervention in the Middle East is a prime example of this. With Russia’s intervention in Syria and the support of President Assad’s forces, he entrapped the West and ended plans for US control in the Middle East.
NATO is continuously expanding its efforts to stop Russia. Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania joined Central and Eastern Europe in 2004, and Croatia and Albania joined NATO in 2009. Now Finland and Sweden may soon become full members of NATO. Clearly, efforts by NATO and the US to block Russia or oust it from international politics will further escalate global tensions.