Fears of Russia, Finland, Sweden could have consequences beyond the NATO

Fears of Russia, Finland, Sweden could have consequences beyond the NATO

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde 6th left Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist 5th left and other parliamentary party representatives present the results of a security analysis on May 13, 2022 at a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden. NINNI ANDERSSON ROME -- The likely ascension of Finland and Sweden to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is sparked by fears in those countries of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. The development could have consequences that go beyond the current crisis, according to analysts.

Since 1993, Finland and Sweden have been members of the European Union, but they have been part of a minority of EU member states that are not part of the NATO military alliance. Once they join, it will leave four of the 27 member states of the EU — Austria, Cyprus, Ireland, and Malta — outside NATO.

It means that 24 of the 32 members of NATO will be members of the European Union.

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Both countries are among the world's richest nations and military spending in both countries is in line with the NATO averages as a percentage of each country's gross domestic product, according to World Bank data.

The ties between NATO and the European Union will be closer, according to Elena Sciso, an international law professor at Rome's LUISS University. The European Union's Lisbon Treaty from 2009 includes a clause on mutual, collective defense, just as NATO does. In a political scientist and head of the European Union division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Nicolai von Ondarza said that Finland and Sweden were never completely neutral when it came to security issues, noting their armed forces already coordinated activities with those from NATO countries and they shared intelligence. Instead, they practiced what he called armed neutrality - meaning they are willing to use military force to maintain their neutrality if needed.

Staff members work at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on March 24, 2022. ZHENG HUANSONG XINHUA One thing this will mean is that the Baltic Sea will become largely a NATO Sea, according to an interview by Ondarza, which referred to the body of water in northern Europe surrounded by Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany, all NATO member states, in addition to Finland, Sweden and Russia.

He said that we will see a policy shift when it comes to foreign and military policy that will shift from crisis management to territorial defense.

The LUISS University's Sciso believes there could be effects of the move far beyond Europe. She said that the Arctic Sea - a nearly unpopulated region with no major land mass thought to contain 160 billion barrels of oil and as much as 30 percent of the planet's natural gas is currently administered by eight countries that border it, five of which are members of NATO: Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and the United States. When Finland and Sweden join NATO, that number will be seven of eight, with only Russia outside the alliance.

Sciso said that it's significant because the states that govern the area will be dominated by NATO. The countries involved are obliged to respect the rules agreed to for the region on things such as fishing rights and nuclear testing, but they are sovereign states and two of them are the world's largest nuclear powers.