As many may know, Republic’s President Sauli Niinistö held third Kultaranta talks Sunday and Monday, and Finnish security crowd has been unusually virile because of this. Also there was news, that surprisingly large proportion of people in NATO countries do not think that article 5, should be enforced. With this I mean PEW study HERE. which states that MAJOR European players in NATO are reluctant to use force to defend their allies when rubber meets the road. On the other hand they usually see US of A as reliable ally who will come to their aid in the time of need. But this belief seems to diminish as you move east in the European continent. In this light I see NATO’s (or USA’s) decision to move armored brigade into Baltics as a wise move. This gives the notion US is ready to spill blood in defense of her allies. This is befitting and indeed wise if one is trying to build some kind of rapport and power base within the “New NATO members” census. and on the other hand serves as a cold shower to the Finns that hope that NATO membership would take care of all security related problems Finland will have in near future. unfortunately not so.
Mr Aleksei Kudrin, former finance man of Putin’s clique brought Kremlin’s message to Kultaranta, to curb NATO’s eastern expansion. Although mr Kudrin is former minister of Putin’s one must assume that he still speaks as “the man’s” mouth. So that peace in Ukraine rides with ironclad agreement of no eastern expansion of NATO. This was quite aptly called off by PoR Sauli Niinistö.
As a side note Finland has been warned of from NATO multiple times by various mouth’s of Sauron since at least 2010. This has driven Finnish general Left, anti NATO crown and various conspiracy believers into frenzy, where the argument that Finland should not join NATO is forwrded on grounds of Russia’s agression. This is quite self defeating argument in my humble opinion. Something akin to “If you call help I’ll hurt you more”. Something that might happen in rape.
Mr Strobe Talbott shot mr Kudrin’s arguments down quite predictably, so it would only seems that we are indeed moving deeper into the “great game” in Europe and in Baltic region. So it seems that new cold war is closer that you would think. I for one cannot see why Kremlin’s wishes in NATO expansion matter should supercede other nation states wishes in this matter. It seems to me that Kremlin is talking big. If e.g. Italy was talking about former Yugoslavian states matters in this manner it would be laughable. I think that people fail to see the relative strength of Russia. Russia can to some extent maul around Ukraine, just barely. But Russia has been unable to bring the Donbass matter into satisfying conclusion. And it doesn’t seem that it can. Even though Ukraine’s military capabilities in this moment of time are not really top notch.
Russia is posturing. Her clout is not sufficient to force anyone not to join NATO, but with using her capabilities in hybrid warfare she tries to make it seem that she can decide for someone else in Europe where one wants to sit and where not. Russia can in June 2015 barely decide if she would want tee or coffee in European politics. Pockets are empty, and really one can only buy sympathy and understanding from euroskeptics and leftist regimes.
So should and could Finland join NATO? It would seems that NATO needs Finland a tiny bit more than Finland needs NATO. As NATO generals pointed out Baltic states are pretty much undefendable without Finland and Sweden in alliance as well. This we know. BUT as PEW poll pointed out not much help would be forthcoming from NATO apart of USA. Finland has already bought practically all Nederland’s Leopard II tanks, ditto with Germany, so HOW much materiel and troops might Finland and Sweden be getting if push became shove? Not much, Old NATO countries have for all practical purposes dearmed themselves and became lax in their belief that few colonial wars and maybe a punitive expedition into sandbox are sufficient to see to their military defense needs. Unfortunately no. I would be all for joining NATO 1985, but NATO 2015 is really nothing to shout about. Skeptics may be more right in this matter than pro crowd.
In Finland the possibility of military alliance with Sweden has bee tossed around as something of a NATO-light. Even though I do not doubt the man to man capabilities of Swedish army, I indeed doubt highly their capability to take attrition in any kind of conflict . In at about 50 kmen Armen will be hard pressed to defend Stockholm let alone anything more serious. Commander of Swedish military gave their endurance at about a week. So in this kind of alliance we might be looking at Great Northern War vol 2015. Devastated Finland, with massive refugee problem in Norrbotten rather that Ingrian war vol 2015 and rather prominent expansion of Finnish Carelia.
Although this alliance would bring savings and more efficiency in Defense in general: With same fighter planes (Finland’s F/A-18 C/D s will be phased out after 2025. Finland is looking at JAS-39 Gripen E/F as viable replacement). Finland has been thinking of getting submarines, Well this could happen as Sweden already operates boats, and Finland could use same facilities with swedes, maybe with own boats.This would in both cases lead into bigger production runs and thus cheaper prices per unit.
So althought this NATO-light would bring dept to Nordic defense, I, at least so far, see it more along lines of Sweden’s great power time, when (before allotment system) Finns were over presented in army (because of land owning situations in different parts of empire), and thus inevitably suffered, proportionally to populus, much larger butchers bill than Sweden proper. If we thing of straightforward combination of respective defense forces: Army 50 000 Swedes, 250 000 Finns (as an Artilleryman I cannot help but to point out that Finland has hundreds of artillery pieces against Sweden’s to be taken into use 24. Sorry just couldn’t help it), Air Force 60 Finns 140 Swedish fighters, and in Navy Sweden about 20 combat vessels Finland in neighborhood of 10.
So as one can see, combined Sweden-Finland would still be a force to be reckoned with, but are the pieces really so easily put together. Still this alliance would still be lacking in important aspect, for example in production of domestic AA missiles. So could there be alliance? Yes, but how well would it work? Someone more qualified needs to answer that. (James, are you reading?)
So again, alliance with Sweden 2005 would be great, but I have serious doubts aligning with Sweden 2015. But again I don’t think these points would make alliance between Finland and Sweden unfeasible. Another question altogether would be popular support for this endeavor in respective countries.
Addendum 17.6.2015 Mr Putin sort of confirmed this “threat to sovereignty” by admission that Russia will take steps if Finland joins NATO. Also Russia announces of buying more ICBMs. It may indicate Russia feels it is threatened, or it just means that they want to update their rocket forces. I suspect the latter