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What Finland Can Offer NATO

4 1855 28
14.04.2022

In Johan Ludvig Runeberg’s The Tales of Ensign Staal, Finland’s national epic about the 1808-09 war between Sweden (of which Finland was then part) and Russia, a hapless young man named Sven Dufva informs his father he’s joining the army. To the surprise of his father and everyone else, Dufva proceeds to become a brave soldier on whom his regiment learns to rely in battle.

These days, Finland—which shares an 800-mile border with Russia—has collectively proved itself such a brave soldier that NATO is expected to receive its membership application with open arms. As Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced this week, Finland will decide whether to apply within weeks.

The announcement is an ironic twist on 20th-century history. After World War II, having thwarted the advance of the mighty Red Army in the Winter War of 1939-40 and then seeking to recapture the territory the Soviets eventually claimed, Finland had to settle for neutrality imposed by Moscow. But to almost everyone’s surprise, it succeeded in this degrading task, too, building up armed forces that were highly capable and were energetically supported by civil society—while at the same time managing to maintain dialogue with Moscow.

In Johan Ludvig Runeberg’s The Tales of Ensign Staal, Finland’s national epic about the 1808-09 war between Sweden (of which Finland was then part) and Russia, a hapless young man named Sven Dufva informs his father he’s joining the army. To the surprise of his father and everyone else, Dufva proceeds to become a brave soldier on whom his regiment learns to rely in battle.

These days, Finland—which shares an 800-mile border with Russia—has collectively proved itself such a brave soldier that NATO is expected to receive its membership application with open arms. As Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced this week, Finland will decide whether to apply within weeks.

The announcement is an ironic twist on 20th-century history. After World War II, having thwarted the advance of the mighty Red Army in the Winter War of 1939-40 and then seeking to recapture the territory the Soviets eventually claimed, Finland had to settle for neutrality imposed by Moscow. But to almost everyone’s surprise, it succeeded in this degrading task, too, building up armed forces that were highly capable and were energetically supported by civil society—while at the same time managing to maintain dialogue with Moscow.

Finland now seems ready to abandon its famed neutrality once and for all, a move that would put real NATO forces on Russia’s northwestern border.

This arrangement, which non-Finns often (to........

© Foreign Policy


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