NATO’s Internal Strife
By Everton Prospere
Image provided by Reuters
On the 24th of February, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, interrupting the balance of power in Europe. In response, several countries that have maintained policies of neutrality for decades, particularly Sweden and Finland, shortly applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Formed at the end of the Cold War, NATO ensured an alliance between the United States, Canada, and Western Europe to prevent the spread of communism by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and its respective alliance in Eastern Europe, the Warsaw Pact.
Although the USSR has dissolved completely, NATO, and its members which comprise of the world’s strongest militaries, still plays a critical role in preserving peace throughout Europe.
While Sweden and Finland have attempted to establish a foothold in this alliance to counteract the invasion of Ukraine, the most powerful remnant of the USSR, Russia, continues to threaten this course of action. According to an official press document from the government of Russia, the country will take “retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to neutralize the threats to its national security that arise from this [Sweden and Finland’s membership to NATO].” Thus, despite the concerns of national security from Sweden and Finland, fearing possible invasions, the Russian government continues to bully these countries on the world stage to prevent an expansion of NATO close to the borders of Russia.
Furthermore, Sweden and Finland also faced difficulty in the application process due to Turkey. Although part of NATO, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has prevented the two countries from joining. NATO, comprising 30 states, requires a unanimous vote to accept another state into the alliance. However, Erdoğan has threatened to block this vote due to claimed “terrorist groups,” such as Kurdistan’s Workers Party, that reside within the borders of Sweden. In addition, as per the Associated Press, Erdoğan has further refused to confirm the two countries due to anti-Islamic protests in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, which resulted in burnings of the Quran. Thus, in order for the two Scandinavian countries to join NATO jointly, Sweden must currently appease Erdoğan by taking decisive action against the designated terrorist groups and banning the burning of the Quran.
As the Russo-Ukrainian war rages on, diplomatic fights simultaneously occur. Sweden, unlikely to bend the knee for Erdoğan due to concerns of constitutional freedoms of the public, will continue to struggle to join NATO. Finland, in response, will attempt to circumvent the situation by re-applying to NATO alone. As Turkey continues to develop seemingly closer ties to Russia, the world watches as devastating battles happen in Ukraine.
Заявление МИД России о членстве Финляндии в НАТО - Министерство иностранных дел Российской Федерации (mid.ru)
Finland Nato: Russia threatens to retaliate over membership move - BBC News
The world looks on as Erdogan jockeys for a third decade of power in Turkey | CNN
Erdogan: Sweden can't join NATO if Quran-burning is allowed | AP News