In the space of 3 months and 60 days the world has grasped that peace in Europe is worth a lot more than 2% of GDP.
Nobody in politics thought that “experienced” politicians like Germany’s Merkel, or a bunch of former Prime Ministers from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway could be led along the proverbial path by the likes of Putin.
Even the main newspapers were supportive of greater cooperation with Russia, a storyline that Merkel, Niinistö, Lipponen, Aho, Rinne, Sipilä, Salvini, Berlusconi, Le Pen, Trump, Orban, inter alia, all pursued with glee – some of them attracted by money or political power, while others though that dialogue was a safe bet. How wrong they were…
Even though these leaders preached the need to maintain an ongoing dialogue with our northern neighbour in the East, there was always a healthy cautiousness within the population at large when talking about Russia. The big Nordic companies all wanted to export networks, plant and many other consumer products to the Russians, while the forestry, fossil fuels and metal industries all relied on generous dollops of imports raw materials ferried to Finland on trains and pipes. It was an easy relationship that created an unhealthy dependence.
Even the invasion of Crimea in 2014 was not seen by these wise European leaders as a red flag. Nord Stream 2 and a big new nuclear plant were ordered from Russia by the Finns. The discussion about too much energy dependence, or the risks of Russian aggression were ignored even when war crimes were committed more recently in Syria and elsewhere.
The last few months of 2021 also saw little, negative public reaction from our wise leaders.
However, we must probably wait and see what was really going on behind the scenes. Denmark and Norway did not hesitate to join NATO after the end of the Second World War, and although Finland and Sweden remained outside the Alliance because they wanted to remain political neutral to military alliance, now in 2022 both countries are seriously considering joining NATO.
But it appears that we were not that naive.
The whole world now knows, the past Finnish governments have been quietly preparing for future risks from the East. Huge sums of money has been spent on a securing a modern military machine that has the capacity to slow, if not stop, any advancing enemy.
Being prepared takes years of hard silent work, something the peace-loving Swedes chose largely to ignore to their peril. They have a modern, but stunted, military capacity that would not last long if threatened. Sweden’s apparent weakness is also seen as a problem for Finland. The Swedes are a weak link, but a link that has the capacity and the resources to gird itself in a relatively short time.
In the last three months, the populations and main political parties in Finland and Sweden have become pro-NATO. Putin has revealed Russia’s ugly face that most of us knew was lurking inside the crumbling walls of the Kremlin.
Joining NATO means that more money will be spent on military defences. But let’s be clear, we are not going to attack Russia. Ordinary Russian people are our neighbours with whom we have good relationships, it is the criminals in the Kremlin we are defending ourselves against.
Ukraine was never a threat to Russia, the biggest threat to Russia is the man at the top, Putin, and his gang of thieves. They are the ones who have stolen money and the lives of ordinary Russians who have been cowered into submission by cowardly gangs of police and the secret service agents who are also invited to steal smaller amounts from ordinary Russians.
The whole of Russia has become a huge pyramid swindle, where confidence tricksters have created a huge illegal money-making scheme to keep a few in luxury while the rest sweat in servitude.
It will be interesting to see what happens now that this Russia castle built on sand is collapsing quickly as the tide is changing and money is cascading from the pockets of the oligarchs and security bosses. They will not sit around too long watching Putin waste all of it on a brutal senseless war that has no purposeful endgame…
… and now, in the space of 6 months, the world has grasped that peace in Europe is worth a lot more than 2% of GDP.
The cover photo is from a thesis called “NATO OR NEUTRALITY?: DECISIONS BY DENMARK, FINLAND, NORWAY, AND SWEDEN” By Kevin A. Chaney, from the US Naval Postgraduate School – an interesting read!