Putin acaba con las neutralidades bálticas
NATO PREPARES FOR NEW MEMBERS: Finland’s president and prime minister on Thursday officially endorsed the idea that their country should join NATO, marking a seismic shift in the geopolitical landscape of the West and a spectacular example of how Putin’s aims in invading Ukraine have backfired.
Next steps: As outlined in Thursday’s Playbook, Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democratic Party is set to make their position clear on Saturday and the coalition government on Sunday. The Finnish parliament will then hold a vote, probably on Monday evening but possibly Tuesday, with an overwhelming number of the 200 MPs expected to back the move.
At the same time, Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats are expected to announce their decision this weekend, with a government meeting scheduled for Monday.
Big backfire: Our colleagues David Herszenhorn and Lili Bayer have more on how Putin’s war is backfiring given the new efforts for others to join NATO.
Russian warning: Russia lost no time in threatening Finland in the wake of Thursday’s announcement. “Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop the threats to its national security that arise in this regard,” the Russian foreign ministry said. What these “military-technical” steps may be is another question.
Finland unbowed: But Finland has shrugged off the warnings. Anders Adlercreutz, a Finnish MP and member of the defense committee, told Playbook that Russia’s threats were not a surprise: “It’s to be expected. The problem for Russia is that they should realize that every time they threaten Finland or Sweden, support for NATO goes up.”
What to expect: Adlercreutz pointed out that Helsinki is braced for hybrid attacks, with cyber warfare one possibility as well as violations of airspace, as has already happened. But Finland is also prepared for a new front in Russia’s propaganda war: “We expect to see a concerted effort to paint Finns as fascists. We have already seen billboards in Russia depicting Swedes as Nazis. It’s similar playbook to what has happened with Ukraine, where Russia has described Ukrainians as Nazis.”
All eyes on gas: Finnish media reported that Russia could cut gas supplies to Finland as early as today. Citing unnamed sources, Finnish daily Iltalehti reported that “key politicians” were warned on Thursday about the potential for imminent disruption. Finland sources the majority of its natural gas from Russia, though gas makes up a small proportion of the country’s energy mix.
NORWAY’S POLITICAL TUSSLE OVER NEW GAS SUPPLIES: Meanwhile, another Nordic country, Norway, is vowing to help Europe turn away from Russian gas, but that’s set off a political battle with the left-wing opposition that rejects expanded gas exploration. Charlie Duxbury has the story.