NATO Should Think Twice Before Accepting Finland and Sweden,

Emma Ashford, Senior Fellow:Scowcroft Center for Strategy & Security

[…] Yet in the rush to give Putin a black eye by embracing Finland and Sweden, US and NATO leaders may be failing to consider the potential costs of inducting two more countries into what, after all, is intended to be a collective defense organization.

There are only two clear-cut benefits to bringing in the two Nordic nations. The first is symbolic: providing a clear demonstration of European and democratic solidarity against Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. The second is technical: Admitting Finland and Sweden would better align the membership of NATO with that of the EU,avoiding the unlikely but problematic scenario in which an EU member state is subject to aggression but is not covered by NATO’s Article 5 mutual-defense pact.

In every other respect, however, the question of Finnish and Swedish membership is more complicated and worrisome. Consider overall European defense capacity. […]

And while both nations have pledged to increase their military spending and ability to bolster Europe’s broader defenses, it is also possible that they would not. Instead, they may free-ride on America’s military strength — and its nuclear umbrella — as so many European states have done for years. According to the International Monetary Fund, neither country comes close to meeting the NATO goal of spending 2% of GDP on defense.

History suggests the most likely outcome is two more states adding to America’s defense burden at a time when Washington should be pivoting to Asia. […]

Consider also the question of the defensibility of new NATO territory. Admitting Sweden could be strategically beneficial, allowing NATO forces to better control the Baltic Sea and to use Gotland Island, at an important chokepoint off the Baltic States, as a staging ground for any future conflict.

Finnish territory, in contrast, is a strategic nightmare. It would dramatically increase the alliance’s exposure to any future attacks by Moscow: the country shares an 800-mile border with Russia that, as a recent study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies put it, is “highly exposed to Russian military threats.” Läs artikel