Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is something many people never expected to see get to this point, and certainly was something they never wanted to see. The aggression he has instructed his commanders and troops to utilize with the Ukrainian people has brought back memories of WWII and the atrocities both Hitler and the Soviet Union brought upon people across the globe.
This show of force served two very distinct purposes aside from Putin’s claims of removing Nazism from inside Ukraine’s borders. The first was to showcase their authority along with Eastern Europe so their dominance could be forever cemented in the minds of Europeans. Secondly, they wanted to send a message to the West (especially the US) that they were not to be trifled with and that they would push back and defeat any resistance they might face.
As noble as these goals might have been, they have been failing miserably. Putin’s military forces have been beaten mercilessly by an underfunded and under-equipped Ukrainian military, who are largely using newly supplied arms and ammunition with little to no training on them. Many of the people who make up the ranks (officially or not) were farmers, painters, and mechanics just a few months ago. However, when your home comes under attack you cannot just lay back and let someone take it, you fight and prepare to die on your feet if need be.
This was a message the people of Afghanistan and Iraq could not comprehend. The Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS (among others) didn’t play by the same rules as the Russians. They would use force by way of rape and murder to get people to go along with them. Unwilling to take the risk, the locals gave in. Just this alone is why the US was in each country so long and is exactly why Americans and President Biden have opposed any direct involvement. Other countries took a glance at our lessons learned and have also avoided direct involvement.
Other countries have taken notice of what the Russians have done and with Ukraine being notably outside of NATO they are being left very vulnerable to attacks from other non-NATO countries. With the promise that an attack on one NATO country is like an attack on us all, smaller, or less equipped countries are looking to join in as well. Moves like this are not uncommon during times of global unrest, but if this was a Vegas wager board, there would have been long-shot odds about these countries joining NATO.
Finland and Sweden have long since been officially not aligned with NATO or other European countries. Their progressive mindset of leaving each other alone is something that sounds great in theory. Finland has a security policy report expected this week, and this is often used as a preliminary step towards a decision about NATO. However, Finland is not eager to jump if their neighbor isn’t ready to commit as well. Their bond runs deeper than just being Nordic countries.
Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto stated how important it was to have Sweden in a similar process but admitted that it would take time. “But of course, we exchange information all the time and, hopefully, if we make similar kinds of decisions, we could do them around the same time.” With the potential future for both countries potentially at stake here, there is a lot for both countries to consider.