With Russia’s war still ongoing in Ukraine, there has been a lot of alarm about threats from Vladimir Putin toward Finland and Sweden.
The reason is these countries said they plan to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Putin threatened them in response.
The alliance of western nations, including the United States and much of Europe, is a bulwark against Russian aggression. It has expanded its influence since the 1950s. Putin cited NATO expansion as one reason for his invasion of Ukraine.
He said if Finland and Sweden join, he might be forced to invade and take military action. Now, Putin is backing down and saying it was just a bluff.
Paper Tiger Putin?
Analysts have been worried Putin could go as far as a land invasion or nuclear bombing of Finland over its immediate plans to join NATO.
So far, however, the only thing Russia has done is cut off power to the Scandinavian nation, accounting for about 10% of Finland’s supply.
As for the “military” response the Kremlin threatened, that has now been withdrawn. Speaking about what’s going on and NATO growing, Putin actually said Russia now has no issue with Finland and Sweden joining up.
According to him, he doesn’t care if these countries join up the alliance, as long as they don’t start hosting weapons and other military forces that could pose a threat to Russia.
There’s no real reason to trust what Putin says, of course. He said he’d never invade Ukraine and then went ahead and did just that.
Still, according to Putin, there is no “direct threat” from Sweden or Finland joining; so, at this point, he no longer cares.
NOW – Finland's parliament votes 188-8 in favor of #NATO membership.
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) May 17, 2022
‘Artificial’ and Meaningless NATO Additions
According to Putin, Finland and Sweden joining NATO really makes no difference. It’s just a symbol, according to him. This is at least partly correct.
Sweden isn’t planning to do much other than sign a piece of paper and wave a few flags. They don’t want NATO weaponry and systems in their homeland.
Finland is a bit different. It hopes to work in military conjunction with NATO and has been upgrading its own armed forces. This may be part of why the Kremlin was threatening Finland more strongly.
If Finland does become a “threat,” Putin noted Russia would be forced to expand its presence in the Baltics and step up to that.
It’s clear Putin doesn’t want to try to take the fight to Finland right now. He has more than enough problems in Ukraine.
NATO expansion is artificial. Russia has no problems with Finland and Sweden, so their entry into NATO does not pose an immediate threat. Russia's response to the entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO will depend on the expansion of the alliance's infrastructure
— Dmitri Alperovitch (@DAlperovitch) May 16, 2022
What Happens Now?
It’s anybody’s guess what happens at this point in Ukraine. Putin really has nothing to show for his invasion, except for thousands of dead soldiers and civilians.
It may turn out the most he gets out of this horrific invasion is a NATO that’s larger and more powerful.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he does not see Finland and Sweden's decision to join NATO as a threat, however deployment of military infrastructure there will trigger a response from Moscow.
— Velina Tchakarova (@vtchakarova) May 16, 2022