Finland Will Bolster NATO’s Northeastern Flank,

Samu Paukkunen, Deputy Director of the Finnish Institutional Affairs (FIIA) and Matti Pesu, Leading Researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA)

Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO has created a new Northern European strategic reality. […]

Despite their close ties and many similarities, Helsinki and Stockholm will not be identical twins in NATO. Rather, their aims and interests once in the alliance will reflect their different strategic cultures and, more importantly, their dissimilar geostrategic locations. Whereas Sweden will be a crucial springboard for possible NATO operations in Northern Europe, including the Baltic Sea, Finland will be a frontline state, situated in the vicinity not only of St. Petersburg but also of the Kola Peninsula—home to Russia’s Northern fleet, and, more crucially, it’s nuclear second-strike capability.

Finland’s geostrategic position will turn it into NATO’s northeastern flank. In other words, Finland is not only a Baltic but also an Arctic power, and, as a NATO ally, it will connect the alliance’s eastern and northern flanks, significantly strengthening the allied foothold in NATO’s primary zones of friction with Russia. The way Finland is integrated into NATO will thus have a significant impact on how NATO’s deterrence and defense posture towards Russia evolves. Moreover, Finland’s (and Sweden’s) accession will potentially bring about a new division of labor in the Northern European theater. […]
Finland’s accession will improve NATO’s ability to defend the Baltic States, particularly Estonia. Finland’s airspace, territory, and seaports will be at the disposal of allied forces. The distance between Finland’s southern and Estonian’s northern coast is between 50 and 75 miles—well within the range of Finland’s evolving precision strike capabilities. Finnish high-level military leaders have already pointed out that Finland’s new F-35 stealth fighters’ long-range capabilities will be aimed at deterring Russia from carrying out major military build-ups in Finland’s vicinity—a fact that Russia needs to consider in its operational planning. […]

In fact, the activity of the Russian armed forces in the northern waters has exceeded the levels of the Cold War. By revitalizing its so-called bastion strategy, Russia has extended its operational capability far into the Norwegian Sea and the crucial Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom gap, with the ambition of being able to block NATO’s access to the Arctic Ocean in general and to the Northern Sea Route in particular.

To tackle these security threats, NATO has updated its command structure, notably with the reactivation of the Atlantic Command “to protect sea lanes between Europe and North America.” Furthermore, the allied forces have carried out frequent exercises in the Arctic, such as the biannual Cold Response drill in Norway. Läs artikel