Sweden’s and Finland’s embrace of NATO after decades of neutrality is a clear statement that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has ended an era of European illusions about Moscow.
The decisions by Finland and Sweden to abandon the neutrality they adhered to for decades and apply to join NATO is the strongest indication yet of a profound change in Europe in the face of an aggressive Russian imperial project.
The two Scandinavian states have in effect made clear that they expect the threat from President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia to be enduring, that they will not be cowed by it, and that after the Russian butchery in Bucha, Ukraine, there is no room for bystanders. Theirs is a declaration of Western resolve.
“Military nonalignment has served Sweden well, but our conclusion is that it won’t serve us equally well in the future,” Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, said on Sunday. “This is not a decision to be taken lightly.”
Because the Finnish and Swedish militaries are already well integrated with NATO, one reason the application process may go quickly, the immediate impact of the countries’ change of strategic course in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be less practical than political.