NATO Plans to Increase Its Presence in Ukraine

Nato, the Western security alliance, has recently announced plans to increase its presence in Ukraine. The alliance was originally created in 1949 to counter Russian expansion in Europe after World War Two, but has expanded to include a wide range of former Soviet allies since then. Sweden, Finland, and Turkey recently announced their intention to join.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens NATO’s ability to defend itself. While Russia signed a Founding Act of cooperation with NATO, it has violated that agreement by repeatedly threatening NATO Allies and using force against other states. Most recently, it has illegally annexed Crimea, the territory of a sovereign state. Additionally, it has continued to support militants in eastern Ukraine.

In addition, NATO is suffering from shortfalls in generating reinforcements on its eastern flank. For example, logistical, legal, and infrastructure issues make it difficult to move a large force across the alliance’s territory. Moreover, NATO’s multinational battalions are lacking in training and equipment.

The Russians claim that NATO’s buildup in the Baltic states poses a strategic threat to their own homeland. Given that NATO’s presence in these regions is less than two hours away from Moscow, such a statement reflects real anxiety about NATO’s intentions.

Finland’s decision to join
Finland’s decision to join NATO is an important development for the alliance. It will greatly contribute to the security of Europe. It also sends a strong signal of deterrence. The decision to join NATO was backed by both the French government and the Swedish prime minister. However, two small, left-leaning parties oppose the move.

Despite the polarizing nature of the issue, the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed Finns’ views of NATO. In recent public opinion polls, 62 percent of Finns support joining NATO, while only 16 percent are opposed. In a recent survey, a similar sentiment was seen among parliamentarians. However, Finland’s traditional political parties, the Center Party and the Social Democrats, remain formally opposed.

While the Left Alliance has historically opposed NATO membership, their opposition was divided in the parliamentary vote. Only a handful of Left Alliance MPs voted against the government’s proposal. Nevertheless, the Left Alliance is a member of the government coalition, and is expected to support the decision. Meanwhile, the government’s decision to buy 64 F-35 combat aircraft from the U.S. by December 2021 will cost Finland at least 10 billion euros.

Sweden’s opposition to joining
Sweden’s opposition to joining NATO has been on the rise in recent years, with the young men of the 18-29 age group adamantly opposing membership. These young men would likely be called upon to serve in the military if the country joined NATO, which has been a source of considerable anguish. According to a recent survey, however, the opposition to joining NATO has increased with age, as 42 per cent of young men in March voted against joining NATO, compared to only 21 per cent in May. This opposition is increasing with each age group; the elderly are the most supportive.

In contrast, the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia has shifted public opinion towards joining NATO, which is what has prompted neighboring Finland to move swiftly in favor of joining the alliance. The Russians have been terrorizing Ukrainian cities with Iranian-made drones, and Ukraine has focused on countering these attacks. This counter-drone strategy has been remarkably successful.

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