Finland, Sweden ask to join NATO - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Wednesday 18 May 2022

Finland, Sweden ask to join NATO

Russia’s Ukraine invasion triggers potentially the biggest expansion of the alliance in two decades



By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 19 May 22



Signalling the growing resolve across Europe to deal firmly with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, two major Scandinavian countries, Finland and Sweden, approached the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on Wednesday with formal requests to join the 30-member alliance.


If, as seems likely, NATO accepts their request, this will be the Atlantic Alliance’s biggest and most far-reaching expansion in two decades, adding over 800 miles to Russia’s northern border and greatly complicating its security calculus.


This is also an indicator of how much opinion in Europe has shifted against Russia since it invaded Ukraine. Finland’s parliament endorsed the proposal to join NATO by a majority of 188 to eight; and Sweden, which has been an isolationist for the last two centuries, now backs joining NATO, too.


Finland and Sweden’s admission into NATO, however, is required to be approved by the North Atlantic Council. Turkey has already signalled opposition over Sweden’s grant of asylum to Kurdish refugees. Italy, Greece and Spain are also ambivalent about NATO expansion.



The fortification


NATO was created with the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington on April 4, 1949 by 12 western European and American countries, including the US, UK, Germany and Canada, to provide collective security against the resurgent Soviet Union and to combat the spread of communism. NATO was the first peacetime military alliance the US entered into outside of the Western Hemisphere.


At the broader strategic level, NATO was intended to serve three purposes: Deterring Soviet expansionism; combating the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent; and encouraging European political integration.


Article 3 of the Treaty called for the signatories to “maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack”. Article 5, arguably the most consequential clause, stated that “the Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or America shall be considered an attack against them all,” and in such an event, each of them would exercise the right of individual or collective self-defence.


Article 9 began the process of giving the Alliance an organisational structure by establishing the North Atlantic Council (NAC) and calling for it to “set up such subsidiary bodies as may be necessary; in particular, it shall establish immediately a defence committee, which shall recommend measures for the implementation of Articles 3 and 5.” 

As NATO set about developing an overall strategy for the Alliance, a key question hung over the use of nuclear weapons to defend the North Atlantic area. Most western military planners believed that NATO was greatly inferior in conventional military strength to the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites,
 which joined hands to form the Warsaw Pact


Meanwhile, there was confidence in the US’s preeminence in the nuclear weapons field. These two beliefs slantedthe development of NATO’s military strategy towards the use of nuclear weapons.


A key concern amongst NATO countries was the apprehension that the US might violate Article 5, and decide against coming to Europe’s assistance in the event of a Soviet Union attack. To provide assurances of US assistance, European powers insisted that the US station a “tripwire force” in Europe.


The “tripwire force” constituted a small US military contingent stationed in Europe to demonstrate US commitment to place its troops in harm’s way by militarily countering a massive Soviet Union attack, 


In the event of an attack, the “tripwire force” would slow the Soviet advance for long enough to allow the US time to marshal additional resources. Since the “tripwire force” is too small to present an offensive threat, it can be deployed without triggering a “security dilemma” – a political science concept in which a state’s actions taken to increase its own security causes other states to react in a manner that decreases, rather than increases, the original state's security.


High readiness to very high readiness


Up to when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, there were just a few thousand NATO troops in Europe, deployed as a “tripwire force”. Since then, their number has risen to tens of thousands as relations have dramatically spiralled downwards. The 2014 NATO summit, in Wales, returned the grouping to its Cold War role of territorial defence.


Now NATO’s military presence has been sharply boosted. According to the Economist, the high-readiness NATO Response Force has been tripled in size to 40,000 and given more weaponry. This has been reinforced by another quick-reaction force, the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, whose 5,000 ground troops supported by air, sea and special forces, can be deployed within 48 hours. 


Additionally, NATO has agreed to deploy four multinational battalions – each with about 1,000 troops and commanded by the US, UK, Germany and Canada – in the three Baltic states and Poland. 


Washington has promised to boost funding for the Pentagon’s European Reassurance Initiative to $3.4 billion next year. This fourfold expansion will be spent on increasing US forces and heavy weaponry in the region. 

1 comment:

  1. # three points:
    available in the public domain are notes on soviet union's application to join nato, circa 1954.
    second; it is an axiom of war to never corner an enemy, if you force him to go down, he will, taking more of your troops than you might otherwise expend. give the other side a golden bridge - once you have shown your superiority you will be able to negotiate an advantageous peace. thus taught the master - sun tzu while expounding on manoeuvring in his magnum opus, the art of war.
    finally, anglosphere has always suffered from the conceit of needing to dominate the world, demolish any threat to its hegemony. the 1914-19 war was the frankenstein's monster that whitehall thought up to move russian forces away from the possibility of moving towards its jewel in the crown by inventing a threat from the kaiser and prussian expansionism in europe. this geostrategic gambit was then not unexpectedly followed by a 1942-46 war [both being termed by the anglos as 'world wars'] with anglosphere's treaty of versailles to dismember, humiliate and inflict punitive war damages payments, reparations on germany. war damages payments and reparations were inflicted on the so called princely states across hindustan in the east india company's gambit termed as subsidiary alliances. many states refused, were declared as rebels by the EICo, and further punitive payments were imposed. the idea was to cripple the 'native states'. eg the travancore rebellion, as it is called, 1808-09. anglosphere are voluptuaries of imperialism and hegemony. fascinatingly, indiyans have always been willing lackeys of anglosphere's imperialisms. it was indian sepoys who made up the expeditionary forces in most imperial wars, egypt, east africa, sudan, somalia, burma, peking [opium wars1839,1853, boxer uprising1899-1901], 1914-18 europe and gallipoli, 1919 iraq, 1939-42 north africa, europe, burma, new guinea. without any sensibility of irony indian army regiments still proudly bear on their regalia the so called battle and campaign honours awarded by the british for voluntary loyal service, pathetic willingness to be cannon fodder, die for the sahibs after swallowing their fable that some of the more simpletons among us were martial races. that this was all nonsense was clarified in the bhagat, henderson-brooks report and is the only reason for not being shared with the people of india even after sixty years. martial races again came a cropper when our military was notvable prevail even in jaffna. at least in that theatre our faujiis could not whinge on being handicapped by their outmoded rifles, weapons, tanks, fighter planes, shortages in snow boots, parkas and high altitude clothing, absence of roads, bridges on our side, etc, etc, etc.
    it would not be improbable if some worthies on raisina hill were even now drafting a submission to nato's brussels office for new delhi to be a possible supernumerary member of their alliance, or maybe observer status. foreign posting, junkets mean a lot for our privileged. meanwhile every time it rains storm water floods our cities, towns lacking effective drains, sewers, administrative planning, organization, capital budget [harappan civilization was noted for well planned drains, sewers]. likewise around the year, across the country people have been forced to resort to reverse osmosis filtration averring that municipality supplied water is not potable, while filling bellies with food security subsidised rice and wheat, as a significant number are unable to afford pulses, lentis, dals, milk and most vegetables, fruit.


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