In a major turn-around in European politics, both Finland and Sweden that have been carefully neutral between the West represented by NATO and Russia (and formerly the Soviet Union) have decided to join NATO. Their Governments have made this decision and their parliaments have in the case of Finland voted and will in the case of Sweden vote for this. What has brought about this 180 degree change in their traditional policy, clearly it is the brutal and unjustified invasion by Russia under Pres. Putin of Ukraine. Whereas traditionally only about 25% of their populations voted to join NATO in the past, that number has jumped to 75% in the past few weeks.
When they see that the invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands and destroyed cities and made 7 million homeless and over 5 million leave the country, they realize that Russia is both ruthless, bloodthirsty and expansionist. They know they cannot alone deal with such a Russia. Joining NATO gives them the support not only of the other European powers, but also of the US and Canada. Finland has the longest border of any European country with Russia, over 1,300 km long. This makes Finland uniquely vulnerable. And Finland has never forgotten the areas that were taken from it both in the past by Imperial Russia and in the aftermath of WWII by the USSR when Finland was allied to Germany (mainly because of its enmity to Russia).
One of the main reasons Putin embarked on his foolish war trying to conquer and incorporate Ukraine into Russia was to prevent NATO expanding eastwards. In this he failed, because now NATO will have an extensive border with Russia, and any attempt to invade or attack Finland or Sweden will result in a war with NATO. PM Boris Johnson went to both countries and signed agreements with them to support them in the interim period before they are accepted as members of NATO. So what Putin went to war over has come to pass, and no doubt it makes Putin mad.
But, what can he do about it? Essentially nothing, the incompetence and inability of his army has been revealed for all to see, Rejuvenated with the flow of Western arms into Ukraine, the Ukrainian Army is now recapturing areas around Kharkov, and Putin’s forces have still not been able to take the Azovstal steel works. He does not have enough military production to replace the hundreds of tanks that have been destroyed or the high number of Russian casualties. He is in no position to start a second front, even if he wanted to, and to try to fight NATO would be foolish. His only alternative is to threaten to use nuclear weapons, but that would be a terrible mistake. Let’s hope he realizes that.