NATO, U.S. Seek to Consolidate Western Military Blockade of Russia in Finland
May 19, 2014
OPINION: NATO, US Seek to Consolidate Western Military Blockade of Russia in Finland
MOSCOW: The defense minister of Finland, Carl Haglund, recently reiterated, and evidently gave more concrete form to, the call by Atlanticists in his country and neighboring Sweden for the accession of both Scandinavian countries into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Haglund is in some manner particularly entitled, in his own mind at any rate, to speak of the dual incorporation as he is simultaneously Finland’s defense chief and the chairman of the country’s Swedish People’s Party.
The other three Nordic nations – Denmark, Norway and Iceland – are founding members of NATO, so Finland’s and Sweden’s largely surreptitious but incontestably accelerating movement towards full membership in the U.S.-led bloc would solidify Western military control of Russia’s northwest environs. American warships and submarines would thus be provided freer rein in the Baltic, Barents, North and Norwegian Seas and that part of the Arctic Ocean north of Scandinavia.
Toward the end of last month Finland’s Haglund revealed that his nation had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NATO allowing the latter to station military aircraft and vessels in the country and to supply troops and equipment to “assist” Finland if the latter – presumably – requests it. In other words, Finland will enter into an Article 5-style partnership with NATO that obligates the entire 28-nation Alliance to enter the fray if Finland is under threat or claims that it is; correspondingly, the Scandinavian nation will be compelled to go to war with NATO whenever the Article 5 mutual defense clause is activated in relation to any other country or region.
According to Paavo Arhinmäki, leader of the opposition Left Alliance party, the above provisions were never discussed while he was a member of the federal cabinet and the Foreign and Security Committee in parliament and, in his own words, “We were left in the dark, and I was very surprised to learn of this NATO pact” [the Left Alliance left the governing coalition in March], an aspect of which is also rumored to be Finland’s purchase of American F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation warplanes.
A comparable integration arrangement has recently been reached with Sweden, which abandoned the last remnant of its historical policy of conscription four years ago in keeping with NATO membership demands. All Sweden military personnel now have to sign a waiver allowing overseas deployment. Defense analysts not infrequently remark that Sweden’s armed forces are more NATO-compatible than are those of many NATO member states.
In the past half decade or so Finland has supplied as many as 200 and Sweden 500 troops for NATO’s war in Afghanistan, serving under the International Security Assistance Force in the north of the conflict-ridden nation. Both nations’ forces have engaged in lethal combat operations there, the first time since World War II in the case of Finland, the first time in two centuries in that of Sweden.
Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen’s political party, the National Coalition Party, has lately been beating the drum for full NATO membership. His party’s leadership candidate and Social Services and Health Minister Paula Risikko has issued a call for a referendum on NATO membership.
Prime Minister Katainen, however, realizes that there is no popular support for joining the military bloc; indeed that there is overwhelming opposition to doing so – in recent polls only a fifth of Finns support membership, but he nevertheless asserts that this opposition is “an insufficient reason” not to forge ahead with the covert corralling of the nation into history’s first global military formation.
He has been quoted affirming:
“It cannot be presumed that the public is able to draw conclusions on such a major question, since many people don’t even have a chance to familiarize themselves with these things to the extent the politicians do.”
The nation’s largest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, has been subjecting its readers to a barrage of pro-NATO propaganda, particularly in light of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Finland has a 1,200-kilometer border with Russia and coastlines on or near three seas: the Baltic, Barents and Norwegian. Moving U.S. and NATO military forces into place along the land border and in the above seas would, in addition to analogous plans for Ukraine and Georgia, in effect consolidate the Western military blockade of the entire western frontier of Russia, from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea and the Caucasus.
Even before the brief war between Georgia and Russia in August of 2008 – so that that conflict, or the current one in Ukraine, cannot be legitimately cited as the reason for it – Finland agreed to contribute troops for NATO’s Response Force, an international strike force inaugurated in the massive Steadfast Jaguar war games in the West African island nation of Cape Verde in 2006.
As such, Finland is one of only four non-full NATO members to have committed to joining the Response Force. The others are, both predictably and revealingly, Sweden, Georgia and Ukraine.
To further indicate how little subsequent developments, especially the post-coup military campaign being conducted by the junta in Kiev against civilians in the east of Ukraine, have served as anything other than an ex post facto pretext for the further integration of Finland by NATO (and, behind NATO, the Pentagon), current Finnish Defense Minister Haglund’s predecessor once-removed, Jyri Hakamies, stated during a visit to the Pentagon in 2007 that the largest security challenge was: “Russia, Russia, and Russia! And not only for Finland, but for all of us.”
The next year Jan-Erik Enestam, then the general secretary of the Nordic Council – a post-World War II cooperation group consisting of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – spoke in a similar vein:
“NATO is the only important international organisation of which Finland is not a member. It would seem as if the time is now ripe for membership. Meanwhile it would be sensible to enter into closer defense co-operation with Sweden and Norway. Norway is after all a NATO country.”
In the same year Juhani Kaskeala, at the time Chief of Defence of the Finnish Defence Forces, announced plans for his nation to join NATO’s Early Warning Air Surveillance System, specifying that “Finland, Sweden and Norway are at present looking at the establishment of joint air surveillance…if these three Nordic countries decide to team up in this field, Sweden and Finland would have to take part in the NATO air surveillance system.”
Also in 2008, Defense Minister Hakamies, speaking at the Atlantic Council of Finland, said: “With Denmark, Norway and Iceland already serving as NATO members…the joining of Finland and Sweden would make the Nordic bloc an influential force within the military alliance” and to make the intended target of that expansion more transparent, added, “NATO membership would further the Nordics’ position in the face of Russia’s growing power.”
Russia’s growing power…Six years ago. Is it because of “Russia’s growing power” that Finnish troops have fought and died, fought and killed in Afghanistan? Perhaps it is. NATO has provided dozens of partnership nations combat experience in a real-life war zone for later use near their borders. Finland is one of them. NATO’s encroachments along Russian’s flanks are not solely designed to enrich Western arms manufacturers, particularly as the Alliance’s fifty-nation war in South Asia is being wrapped up and combat-hardened troops return to their respective homelands to put their training to use.