Neutrals Ponder Future After Russian Aggression in Ukraine

Putin went to war because of Ukraines intention to pursue closer ties with NATO – well that’s one of the reasons. Paradoxically the outcome although still dire for Ukraine is more positive for NATO expansion than at any time.

An important pillar of neutrality in Scandinavia has been the steadfast avoidance of NATO membership by Sweden and Finland.. That position which seemed unchallengeable even three or four years ago has altered dramatically in terms of public opinion. Sweden is already cooperating with NATO and indeed its Air Force provided air defence cover when NATO warships reinforced the Baltic State members recently. In the past few days its electronic warfare aircraft have also been operating over NATO countries on the Polish-Belarus-Ukraine border.

Finland now seems likely to seek membership soon. Finland of course fought two bruising wars with Russia in 1939-40 (The Winter War) and 1941-1944 (The Continuation War) it lost a vast swathe of territory – Karelia – and also access via Lapland to the Arctic Sea. It also had to pay severe post war reparations to Soviet Russia. Public opinion in Finland now dramatically supports NATO membership:

https://www.dw.com/…/is-nato-finally-in…/a-61283265

Even in Ireland polls suggest there is support for NATO. That is a dramatic turnaround in a country where neutrality has been a cornerstone of foreign policy for decades. Indeed I can recall attending peace conferences in Dublin at the height of the Cold War when it was inconceivable that Ireland would ever dabble with the idea of NATO membership.

https://www.politico.eu/article/poll-more-irish-want-to-join-nato/

Paradoxically Ukraine is now backing away from the idea of NATO membership having learned that determined resistance can blunt the once vaunted Russian armed forces and more pertinently having been let down by NATO although supported militarily with supplies of arms from individual NATO members.

Image: Joint conference of Celtic League, Irish CND and Greenpeace in 1991 (Dublin) at that time NATO and the Warsaw Pact were seen as equally destabilising. (Photo from ‘The Celtic Dawn’ book by Peter Beresford Ellis).

Bernard Moffatt

AGS Celtic League (29th March 2022)

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