Finland and Sweden have dismissed Russia’s warnings that their potential NATO membership would have “serious military-political consequences” for the two countries.
- Russia has put forth two draft agreements that seek explicit, legally binding security guarantees from the United States and NATO, respectively:
- The draft calls for NATO to end its eastward expansion, specifically, deny future membership to ex-Soviet states, such as Ukraine.
- It would also ban the United States from establishing bases in or cooperating militarily with former Soviet states.
- It would block both signatories from deploying military assets in areas outside their national borders that “could be perceived by the other party as a threat to its national security.”
- However, Russia has voiced concern about what it described as efforts by the United States and some of its allies to “drag” Finland and Sweden into NATO and warned that Moscow would be forced to take retaliatory measures if they join the alliance.
- Tensions between Russia and the West have been building ever since Vladimir Putin started his proxy war in eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea.
- In response, NATO sent reinforcements to countries seen as vulnerable to Russian aggression.
- In December, Moscow set out its security demands in two documents: a proposed treaty with the US, and an agreement with NATO.
- Essentially, Russia now wants guarantees that NATO will halt its eastward expansion, rule out membership for Ukraine and other former Soviet countries, and roll back its military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.
- Russian leaders have long been wary of the eastward expansion of NATO, particularly as the alliance opened its doors to former Warsaw Pact states and ex-Soviet republics in the late 1990s (the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland) and early 2000s (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia).
- Their fears grew in the late 2000s as the alliance stated its intent to admit Georgia and Ukraine at an unspecified point in the future.