This is an update from our coordinator in Finland, Jonathan Widdell, we release this message as an adjunct to the Passover message.
Sweden and Finland have been in the news lately not only because of Finland’s dancing Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Sweden’s new right-wing government, but also because of their rather ill-fated NATO applications. Both are integrated in the NATO systems but after the Russian “special military operation” started in Ukraine in February last year, they thought that time was ripe to end the long-standing neutrality of both countries. What happened next seemed to be so carefully orchestrated that it is doubtful that the Russian SMO was even the real reason for this dramatic change. Both countries sent delegations to Washington D.C., regardless of whether the politicians were in the government or in the opposition.
Sweden and Finland – what are you up to?
But what really stands out is the readiness of both countries to change their minds about everything, not only about their neutrality. For instance, at the beginning of the year 2022 both countries promised that they would not become members of NATO without a referendum.
That promise was kept until it was broken a few months later. The situation in Ukraine was said to make it necessary to submit the applications as soon as possible. The argument was that Russia would attack Finland and Sweden very soon, which in turn made it necessary for Finland and Sweden to join NATO like yesterday. The people in these countries were promised that this would take about two weeks – or two months – at most. Hence, no referendum was needed and none was held. Even a vote in the parliament was almost skipped out of this same sense of urgency. Then the following happened. Boris Johnson flew to Stockholm and Helsinki to sign a document that provided “mutual security guarantees” between Finland and Sweden on the one hand and Britain on the other.
That was quick – the idea was obviously to persuade the parliaments of both countries to approve the NATO applications of both countries – which is what happened. There was a vote in the Finnish Parliament only because some individual members insisted on it. They were beginning to wonder if this was happening a bit too fast, not to mention that everything flew in the face of Finland’s longstanding neutrality. But at the end of the day, these members, who voted against NATO membership, suffered a crushing defeat.
Trouble with Turkey
But breaking of promises has become the New Normal. What has happened is this. Turkey was not so keen on the idea of letting these two countries into NATO until the Kurdish situation was addressed. That was especially difficult in Sweden because the government had made a promise to a Kurdish member of the Swedish parliament that the Kurds would not have to suffer. When Turkey started making the demands that some Kurds would have to be extradited to Turkey, the Social government fell in the parliamentary elections a few months later. But as it became clear that this would not be over in a couple of weeks, the people of both countries were promised that Sweden and Finland would join NATO at the same time. That promise, in turn, was kept until it was broken a few weeks ago because Turkey said it would not ratify the Swedish application but would be okay with the Finnish application.
New Normal: one broken promise after another
Now there is a new promise: Finland has promised that Finland would make sure Sweden could join NATO as soon as possible once it is in NATO itself. But the situation is problematic. Turkey has not been happy with Sweden. To palliate Turkey’s concerns, Sweden has proposed to make its anti-terrorist legislation tighter. The government sent a
proposal to the parliament. However, the new Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has admitted that it would take years before Turkey would be satisfied. The new legislation would have to be applied first and Turkey would be able to make up its mind.
So Finland is going to NATO alone, it seems. But this did not happen without the Finnish President Sauli Niinistö making and breaking another promise. It goes like this: There will be a parliamentary election in Finland in April. Logically the question of NATO membership would have to be one of the themes. However, the President has made it certain that NATO membership would not be discussed in the election and the parliament has played along by finalizing the necessary legislation. That happened a couple of weeks ago.
The President then promised that he would not sign the legislation until after the election. However, he broke that promise last week. In the meantime, the Finnish President had met with President Biden in Washington, which may have contributed to this change of heart.
US military aircraft in and near the Finnish airspace
And on the same day that the President signed the legislation, a US surveillance plane started patrolling the Finnish airspace. Which was quick. The Finnish media pointed out that this made possible an even more efficient surveillance of the movement of the Russian military. Not that anyone cared asking the people for their opinion on the matter.
Even before, an American B-29 Superfortress bomber flew along the Gulf of Finland to the east and then over the Baltic states to the south at least a couple of times. This is the bomber that is known to be the only aircraft ever to drop nuclear weapons. It has been said that the purpose was to send a “message” that Finland was already a de facto member of NATO. But it has also been suggested that the plane was practicing a nuclear strike against both St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad. Not that these two are mutually exclusive: nothing sends a message like aircraft that can drop nukes.
Finland the next hot spot?
In short, then, it is necessary to keep an eye on these two Nordic countries, especially Finland. That will probably be the next hot spot. The special military operation has been going on for more than a year but that has not been a reason to slow down; on the contrary. Hence the Russians are interpreting all these developments as a provocation.
The situation is beginning to resemble the events that led to the Russian special military operation in February 2022. The difference is that this time nukes are potentially involved. As we remember it was the subject of nukes, which the Ukrainian President Zelensky said his country would need, that led the Russians to launch the operation.
And as for those NATO applications, well, recently another NATO member state, Hungary, has made it clear that it would not let Sweden enter NATO. The reason is not quite clear. At least not the official one. Probably the “real” reason has to do with the hard time Hungary itself has been given by the EU, which is refusing to send Hungary billions of euros, because the EU says Hungary is an undemocratic country. That is a bit thick, coming from unelected EU officials. But what else is new?
These events will most probably require the northern elements of the Russian armies to push north into Scandinavia and the Baltic. The Central Arm will enter Poland and push West through Germany into France; and the Southern Arm will enter through the Balkans into Greece and Italy.
World War III is not far off.