Layered logic behind NATO's northward expansion

China Military Online
Li Wei
2022-05-18 20:36:58

Both Finland and Sweden have announced the decisions to apply to join NATO in succession, which means that NATO intends to go further northward following the previous five rounds of eastward expansion.

What effects it will bring about to NATO or the US? Geographically, Finland shares a 1,300-kilometer land border with Russia. Finland's entry into NATO will directly double the length of the land border between NATO and Russia, and also make NATO even closer to Russia's strategically important locations or key cities such as Kola Peninsula and St. Petersburg. At the same time, it means that all the five Nordic countries have joined NATO, further strengthening NATO's geographical containment against Russia.

On the other hand, NATO will greatly benefit from Finland's accession. Finland's active-duty troops rank top in scale among European countries, and its defense system is more compatible with that of NATO compared with many other European countries. After joining NATO, Finland together with Scandinavian and Baltic countries will create a greater deterrent against Russia.

Sweden has a strong and innovative industrial system, as well as the Saab Group, a well-known military enterprise. Finland and Sweden are bound to accelerate their own armed forces and reduce the US' security investment in Europe once becoming NATO's northern defense front, which in turn will make the US put more energy into the Asia-Pacific region.

Fundamentally, NATO is a product of the Cold War. Its ultimate goal is not only to destroy the Soviet Union and then Russia. Instead, NATO, in a sense, serves as an organization to strengthen security expansion as a way to continue writing the myth of West-centered Theory, following Western civilization getting frustrated by the economic expansion. The NATO expansion lies in searching for enemies, creating threats and eliminating dissidents.

Although a unanimous consent of NATO's 30 member states and the approval of their parliaments each and every, which may take several months, are the prerequisite for a country to join the organization, meanwhile public opposition from Turkey is still a challenge at present, countries including the US and UK have begun to appease Ankara, and also vowed to guarantee the security of Finland and Sweden.

As a matter of fact, Finland and Sweden have been recognized as NATO member states in nature, which just lack an official formality. The US pushed NATO to add fuel to the flame in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and planned a proxy war against Russia, which is nothing but to take the opportunity to further expand and make itself out of dilemma and regain popularity in Europe.

NATO's northward expansion to absorb Finland and Sweden, neutral countries, will deliver an even more severe squeeze on Russia's strategic space, which will not only double the border with Russia, but also encircle Russia's Baltic Fleet and Northern Fleet. In addition, building up NATO's defense barrier in the north will further offset the military and strategic value of Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. Europe that excludes Russia will have increasingly overlapping security, political, economic, and cultural borders.

The northward expansion of NATO can be regarded as the composite result of usual practice of Western civilization expansion, the temptation from the US military-industrial complex, the thrill of punishing Russia as a loser in the Cold War, and its own nature as a military offensive bloc. NATO always tends to seek legitimacy for its expansion, which in essence is a continuation of the logic that "might makes right".

(The author is Jean Monnet Chair Professor, Director of Institute of International Affairs, Director of Center for European Studies at Renmin University of China. )

Editor's Note: This article is originally published on, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of


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