As Russian bodies begin to stack up like pebbles in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking at moving on to easier targets. The resistance level the Ukrainian people have presented to Russian forces is something Putin never accounted for. With private citizens joining the Ukrainian military or just volunteering to fight on their own, the government and its allies have been supplying them with firearms, ammo, and intel to keep them safe and prevent the Russians from advancing their position any further.
So, when a video leaked on April 11th of two Russian vehicles approaching Finland’s border things took an unexpected turn. Like a bully who found out the kid they thought was a nerd knows Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, they have started to turn and look for a weaker victim, and one without the resolve that Ukraine had to protect their borders. Given the years of skirmishes over disputed territories in Ukraine going back eight years now, the aggression from Russia was not very surprising.
The advancement towards Finland like they are a weak nation on the other hand is a huge shocker. As the leaked footage shows, a duo of K-300P Bastion-Ps was seen rolling down the road towards Finland. These systems are designed as coastal defense missile systems and aren’t being rolled out just to resupply Russian troops with vodka, or to visit babushka in the hills. These are serious weapons systems and signs of aggressive posturing for a long standoff.
The lack of being in NATO for Ukraine despite others inviting them in is what made it so easy for Russia to go over the border. None of these countries can provide boots-on-the-ground help unless they are in NATO. They can only offer support in the form of supplies, well wishes, and positive vibes. While many other nations have refused NATO, Ukraine is one of the few who have been consistently toyed with and who have shunned the thought.
Meanwhile, Finland and Sweden have balked at the idea of joining NATO for decades. The notoriously neutral countries have been largely protected by the US and other nations as their resolve to not be involved directly in conflict has made them an excellent partner for opening the lines of communication, negotiations, and forming agreements. Having that middle ground status gives the people an opportunity to be unafraid as they sleep in their beds at night.
The aggression from Russia looks to change things completely for Finland. With talks of either country joining NATO tabled until at least summer, it is the prime opportunity for Russia to move in. Making this kind of adjustment to become a country in NATO takes some time, and while both countries have completed the initial steps, there is still much to go before the protection of being a member of NATO can be fully enjoyed by either nation.
In Russia they perceive another nation joining NATO as an act of aggression and hostility. One that they will not take on the chin without doing what they need to do to keep themselves free and safe. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov issued a stern warning about joining NATO to reporters. “We have repeatedly said that the alliance remains a tool geared towards confrontation and its further expansion will not bring stability to the European continent.”
In contrast, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg spoke with CNN and delivered a very different perspective on the situation. “We respect the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Finland to decide their own future. That’s exactly what Russia does not respect, they’re actually trying to intimidate and are saying that if Finland decides to join NATO, there will be consequences.” Given the stance, the Kremlin and Putin have taken against NATO coupled with their cozy relationships with China, Venezuela, and to a point Iran, this could get very ugly, very quick.