Sweden and Finland are committed to non-military alliance

Swedish fighter Saab JAS 39C Gripen

Sweden also offered Finland the military aircraft for sale, but the neighboring country chose an American model.

(Photo: Reuters)

Stockholm The rattling of swords on the Ukrainian-Russian border as well as the catalog of Moscow’s demands, which are considered “unacceptable” in the Far North, and which clearly rule out ongoing NATO expansion, have led to a renewed discussion about the direction of the security policy of the two northern European states.

Unlike Denmark and Norway, Finland and Sweden have long boasted of freedom of association. For decades, the thought of a potential NATO membership was a taboo. That has changed since Russia’s menacing gestures. However, there is still a long way to go for the two countries to join NATO soon.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin used New Year’s letters to explain the country’s security situation. Niinistö stated clearly that “the possibility of joining a military alliance and becoming a member of NATO is part of Finland’s freedom of action and freedom of choice.” Prime Minister Marin emphasized that her country had learned from the past. “We don’t allow our room to maneuver to be dragged.”

These are new ringtones. For decades, Finnish security policy has been characterized by deference to its large neighbour, with which Finland shares a border of more than 1,300 kilometers. “Finnish” refers to a policy in which Moscow is always consulted on important foreign policy decisions.

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An initially cautious departure from this policy was announced after Finland joined the European Union in 1995. Finland has been officially involved in the NATO security concept “Partnership for Peace” for a number of years and has received only 64 F-35 combat aircraft from the arms company America for ten billion euros just before Christmas. Lockheed Martin ordered. This decision was met with disappointment from neighboring Sweden, and even with some incomprehension.

Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto (left) and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson

Finland and Helsinki: the two neighboring countries closely coordinate, including on security issues.

(Photo: dpa)

Because non-alliance Sweden developed its own military aircraft for decades and offered the JAS 39 Gripen to its neighbours. The fact that Finland has now opted for the American solution in Stockholm is seen as a sign of realignment.

Otherwise, the two countries work closely together militarily, conducting joint exercises and coordinating important security policy decisions. The new Swedish Prime Minister, Social Democrat Magdalena Andersson, did not show her disappointment with the Finnish decision against the Swedish multi-purpose aircraft and loaned her Finnish counterpart.

“We in Sweden decide with whom to cooperate,” she said. During a parliamentary debate on Wednesday, she showed NATO supporters the red card: “This is not the time to change our security policy,” she stated unequivocally.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Swedish Armed Forces, Mikael Biden, also spoke a few days ago that Moscow’s demands that NATO forces not be stationed in countries that were not yet members of the military alliance in 1997 would destroy the “security foundations of Sweden”. will.” His boss, Defense Minister Peter Holtqvist, agreed with the Russian demands, describing them as “totally unacceptable.”

NATO membership is only an ‘option’

Neither Finland nor Sweden speak publicly about NATO membership. It is nothing more, nothing less, an ‘option’. It looked like this for many years. Both countries want to retain decision-making power over the direction of their security policy and fear that negotiations between the United States and Russia will destroy them.

After the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, opinions about possible NATO membership in both countries have changed somewhat. However, there is no majority in favor of accession, neither in Finland nor in Sweden. According to a survey conducted by the Finnish think tank EVA, 26 percent are in favor of joining NATO, and 40 percent are against it. In Sweden, too, opponents of NATO still make up the majority: 35% reject membership, about 32% support it, and the rest are undecided. As long as the geopolitical situation in Europe does not fundamentally change, both countries will continue to choose freedom of association as a security doctrine.

more: The United States does not see any de-escalation in the Ukraine crisis before the NATO-Russia Council.

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