For decades, Sweden and Finland have held back from joining other western nations in the Nato military alliance. For Sweden, it would have compromised its longstanding neutrality. For Finland, it was a more pragmatic matter of not appearing to antagonise Russia, with which it shares an 810-mile (1300km) border and against which it fought brutal 20th-century wars.
But as Jon Henley tells Michael Safi, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (another non-Nato European country) changed everything. This week the two countries formally submitted their applications to join the military alliance. It is a move that has been met with hostility and threats by Russia, but it’s one that injects new life into an alliance that appeared to be faltering. With defence budgets being cut across Europe, Donald Trump’s unpredictable presidency and a drifting sense of purpose, Nato’s future was being openly questioned. Not any more.
So with Nato rejuvenated, has Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine not only been a miscalculation in terms of his short-term military aims, but also a wider strategic catastrophe?
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