Finland and Sweden are on the verge of seeking membership to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a historic shift for two traditionally non-aligned countries and a major expansion of the Western alliance as war wages in Europe.
On Thursday, Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin strongly backed Finland’s NATO membership. “NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security,” they said in a joint statement. “As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance. Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay.”
What happens in Helsinki is being closely watched in Stockholm. Sweden’s parliament issued a report Friday that said joining NATO would “raise the threshold” for military conflict. Sweden’s ruling party, the Social Democrats, are having internal debates about reversing their long-held stance opposing NATO membership, paving the way for Sweden to make its NATO aspirations known within the coming days. Finland moved first, but the two are closely coordinating, and will likely apply for NATO membership in tandem.
This is a dramatic turn for two countries that have defined their geopolitical identities around nonalignment — Finland, for decades, and Sweden for two centuries. It will bring close partners into alliance, strengthening NATO’s presence in Northern Europe and putting more pressure on Russia’s borders. After resisting NATO membership for so long, it is a signal from Finland and Sweden they are united alongside Europe, the United States, and its allies during a crisis moment for the continent.
“This is pretty monumental,” said Katherine Kjellström Elgin, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “It’s a fundamental change to the European alliance structure.”
It’s been a difficult few months for the so-called arms control community. Cherished myths and deeply held beliefs have been dashed by Russian, Chinese, and North Korean behavior. Reciprocity has been demonstrated to be an empty concept. And yet the alluring illusions persist. It’s time to sweep the hoary old folktales away and confront the new realities.
After months of anticipation, Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced Thursday their country’s intention to apply for membership in NATO, and neighboring Sweden is not far behind. In polling last fall, only about a fifth to a quarter of Finns and Swedes supported their respective countries joining NATO. After Putin’s premeditated, unprovoked, and highly scripted invasion of Ukraine on February 24, there has been a massive movement of public opinion towards joining the alliance. In Finland, the numbers supporting membership jumped to 53 percent, then 62 percent, and a poll earlier this week measured 76 percent support with only 12 percent in opposition. The swing in Swedish opinion has been less dramatic, but still emphatically shows a majority (57 percent in April) supporting NATO membership for the first time.
Defense Department and Space Force leaders have increasingly emphasized space resilience as the key to space superiority. Previous efforts developed taxonomies for space resilience and considered differences between mission resiliency and system resiliency. In 2016, then deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, Douglas Loverro, specified six major investment areas to enhance space resilience: disaggregation, diversity, distribution, deception, protection, and proliferation and urged that “we need to exercise all six of those different kinds of resilience…[to] get the true resilience we want.”
Taken together, these ideas offer three approaches to resilience: proliferation, reconstitution, and retaliation. To date, DoD’s approach to resilience has been overly focused on resilience through proliferation. To meet the threat to U.S. space systems, DoD needs to broaden its approach to resilience to fully embrace reconstitution. DoD also should think further about deterrence through the threat of retaliation, especially non-kinetic-based deterrence by punishment approaches that are already feasible and mutually reinforcing to reconstitution and retaliation. Although DoD and Space Force leaders have begun talking about the need for rapid replenishment of space constellations, the department needs to accelerate investment and acquire the needed capabilities for reconstitution and retaliation to shore up the space resiliency triad.
Russia’s invasion on the other side of the world has spurred ordinary Taiwanese to take practical steps to guard against similar action by Beijing.
The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) announced the appointment of Whitney M. McNamara as a Non-Resident Senior Fellow. Ms. McNamara, currently an Associate Vice President at Beacon Global Strategies, will support CSBA’s ongoing work on defense innovation, future operational concepts, and emerging technologies.