Finnish and Swedish NATO membership unlikely before 2020 despite growing support, Russia to retaliat | World Defense

Finnish and Swedish NATO membership unlikely before 2020 despite growing support, Russia to retaliat

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Finnish and Swedish NATO membership unlikely before 2020 despite growing support, Russia to retaliate economically

Lora Chakarova and Alex Kokcharov and Dijedon Imeri - IHS Jane's Intelligence Review
13 October 2015

A soldier of Finland participates in the amphibious operations as part of NATO sea exercises BALTOPS 2015 that are to reassure the Baltic Sea region allies in the face of a resurgent Russia, in Ustka, Poland, 17 June 2015. Source: PA

Key Points
  • Sweden and Finland, both European Union members, have abided by their neutral military status for decades amid bitter historical experiences and attempts to strike a balance between Western values and economic dependence on Russia.
  • With a military offensive unlikely, IHS expects Russia to retaliate through provocative arms build-ups and economic coercion in the form of import bans, arbitrary taxation, and inspections against Finnish and Swedish businesses.
  • The success of regional defence arrangements, ability to boost defence budgets, and Russia's assertiveness will determine Finland and Sweden's willingness to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, unlikely before 2002.
EVENT
In October 2015, Sweden and Finland are publishing a report on ways to pool and share military capabilities. The two countries, while pledging to boost defence spending and co-operation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, are still a long way from full-fledged membership.

Finland and Sweden, active members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Partnership for Peace programme, have achieved a significant interoperability with NATO forces, given high levels of standardisation and participation in joint exercises. Nevertheless, domestic support for full-fledged membership has been scarce. Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine and assertiveness in the Baltic Sea region, however, have prompted a surge in public support and renewed talks on whether NATO accession should be pursued.

In 2014, Russia violated Finnish airspace five times and raised suspicion of having sent submarines into Swedish and Finnish territorial waters. In 2013, it simulated an aerial attack on Stockholm. As a result the countries deepened ties with NATO by signing host-nation support agreements on receiving allied troops and weaponry in a crisis. The agreements are non-binding on either side and fall short of Article 5 collective defence provisions.

Public and political support
In Finland, a shift in support among the main parties has been observed only recently.
Finnish and Swedish NATO membership unlikely before 2020 despite growing support, Russia to retaliate economically - IHS Jane's 360
 
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