Nordic country became the 32nd member of the military alliance; Putin considers expansion a threat to Russian territory

After more than a year of waiting, Sweden became the 32nd member of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). On Monday (26.Feb.2024), the Hungarian Parliament approved the Nordic country’s entry into the military alliance. The nation governed by Viktor Orbán was the last obstacle to the organization’s expansion in Europe.

The Swedish and Finnish accessions – Finland became a member in April 2023 – marked the end of the neutrality policy adopted by both and represented the largest expansion of NATO since the accession of Eastern European countries that belonged to the former Soviet Union.

The history of the alliance is linked to Russia and its expansion follows the same path. Founded in 1949, during the Cold War, NATO’s main objective at the time was to prevent the expansion and political influence of the Soviet Union across Europe. Now, the concern is related to possible impacts on the security of the European continent, especially if Russia wins the war against Ukraine.

Finland and Sweden decided to join the alliance because they assessed that the countries’ security was threatened. The decision was also driven by the Ukrainian and Russian conflict.

On the other hand, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and his government have repeatedly expressed discontent with the expansion of the military alliance in neighboring countries, stating that the entry of nations threatens the country’s security. Putin even used the issue to justify the start of the invasion of Ukrainian territories, on February 24, 2022.

The professor of international relations at UFSC (Federal University of Santa Catarina), Danielle Jacon Ayres Pinto, stated in an interview with Pode360 that the entries from Sweden and Finland represent a “advantage” for NATO because the military alliance “expands its territory closer to its greatest undeclared enemy [a Rússia]but [um inimigo] within security perspectives” of the organization.

The professor of international relations at UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), Carlos Eduardo Martins, assesses that the recent arrivals are part of NATO’s expansion plans for Eastern Europe.

“It is in the interest of the United States to expand NATO eastward [europeu]surround Russia as much as possible [e] isolate it because the country is a logistical corridor in the articulation between China and Europe”, said in an interview with Poder360.

With the accessions of the Nordic countries, Russia is now surrounded by NATO nations on land and sea. Currently, 5 countries of the military organization share borders with the Russians: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Finland. The Finns, for example, share around 1,300 kilometers with the nation led by Putin.

In the maritime environment, the proximity to Russia is due to the country having two strategic exits to the Baltic Sea, an important navigation route to the Atlantic Ocean and access to Saint Petersburg, Russia’s 2nd largest city. They are: the port of Saint Petersburg and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

NATO has strategic access to the Baltic Sea through Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and now Finland and Sweden. Russia, therefore, became the only country outside the military alliance in the region.


Danielle Jacon also assesses that the entry of Finland and Sweden will contribute to the military alliance in the military sector. “Maybe more with the entry of Sweden, which is a military power. […] We will have to observe how Sweden will cede its military resources to the NATO arsenal.”these.

In 2006, defense ministers from NATO member countries committed to spending at least 2% of their GDP on “continue to ensure the alliance’s military readiness.” The war in Ukraine made European nations rethink the amount of resources allocated to protecting the continent and increase defense spending.


In an address to the nation on Thursday (Feb 29), Vladimir Putin warned of the risk of a nuclear conflict with the West if the military alliance sends troops to Ukraine.

The Russian president also stated that Western countries try “drag” Moscow to an arms race and, therefore, the country must develop a defense industrial complex to increase “its scientific, technological and industrial potential”.

“It is seriously necessary to strengthen the groups [das Forças Armadas russas] in the western strategic direction to neutralize threats associated with NATO’s upcoming expansion,” he stated, referring to Finland and Sweden’s accessions to the military alliance.

According to Danielle Jacon, Putin, in his last speeches, made it clear that he was not afraid to use the country’s nuclear arsenal if attacked by NATO. The expert considers, however, to be “unlikely” for Russia to invade Europe on its own initiative to conquer territory.

“Now, there is a chance that Russia will retaliate because it understands that NATO is coming much closer to its territory, with much more breastfeeding, invading its geopolitical space of sovereignty… Then it has a chance of creating a conflict in Europe”, he stated.


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