Turkey Potentially Blocking Finland and Sweden from NATO May Be Gamesmanship

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has turned the world order upside down. Countries are being forced to align with the emerging Russian-Sino alliance or the legacy partnership of NATO. As the war continues to drag on, the question remains if Russia will keep the conflict in Ukraine or expand its military aspirations to other countries.

Sweden and Finland are not waiting to find out Russia’s intentions. Both countries have applied for partnership in NATO. This is somewhat of a surprise for Finland given its longstanding commitment to remaining neutral.

At the conclusion of World War II, it promised Russia that it would never join either NATO or the Warsaw pact. This is one of the reasons that Russia left the country alone during the cold war. It is not known what Russia will do now that the Fins have broken that promise.

Although NATO has been trying to fast-track the two countries into the alliance, a member country has indicated it will block the move. It must be unanimously accepted by all 30 countries. Turkey, one of the more recent additions to NATO, is telegraphing that it will vote no because of the two countries’ stance regarding Kurdish militants.

From a practical perspective, this is not necessarily a bad thing. If Russia was to attack Sweden or Finland, it is likely that NATO would come to their aid.

The fact that Finland shares a border with Russia might be used as a pretext for an attack, given the same rationale was used as a partial reason for attacking Ukraine. Admitting the two countries may escalate an already tense situation.

That said, Turkey is most likely posturing to be able to buy more military hardware from the United States. Former President Donald Trump put sanctions on Turkey because of their purchase of Russian anti-aircraft platforms.

Turkey is most likely playing up its opposition to expanding NATO so it can gain leverage in future negotiations. Once the US agrees to lift the weapons ban, we’ll see what Turkey’s real intentions are.