Champagne mood in Brussels. The accession of the two Scandinavian countries shifts the balance of power in northern Europe in favor of NATO. This is due to the strong military of both countries and the geographical location.

Both countries are a strength and security gain for the military alliance, bringing far more net strength and security than they bring insecurity. Such a thing is not a matter of course. Countries often seek alliances that represent a burden rather than a gain. Turkey is currently “blocking” accession, but this is just a political maneuver Erdogan is using to drive up the price of his approval. Both countries are not directly threatened by Moscow. Although there is a time in the history of Finland when it was part of the Tsarist Empire, the Finns differ from the Russians in terms of language, culture and ethnicity. They don’t fall under Putin’s “brother nation ideology” like Ukraine or Belarus.

The protection of the forest

Despite the poor performance of Russian forces in Ukraine, nature protects the northern states. Although there is a long border between Russia and Finland, Karelia is extremely unsuitable for an invasion. There are only a few main roads in the sparsely populated area, the region is completely forested and criss-crossed by rivers, lakes and swamps. It’s perfect for defense.

The so-called Winter War and World War II, in which Finland participated as an ally of Nazi Germany, showed that the Finns are masters of forest warfare. A very specific form of combat that the Finnish Armed Forces still train for today. The Baltic states may be able to defend themselves, but due to their small size they simply lack the space to successfully conduct a defensive battle, they would have to stop the Russians right behind the border fence. Finland, on the other hand, has enough room for an elastic defense.

Baltic Sea is lost for Putin

The landmass and sea area of ​​both states severely restrict Russia’s access to the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. From the Russian point of view, the entire coast of the Baltic Sea now consists of “enemy states”. The Russian Navy would have little chance of breaking out of the Leningrad area and the Kaliningrad enclave. The Swedish island of Gotland blocks the small sea in the middle.

Russia’s ideas that the sea and air routes to the Baltic states could be cut off at will are also passé. With this accession, the Baltic Sea will become part of the NATO sea and NATO airspace. The situation in the north is similar but not as dramatic. So far, Norway has guarded Russia’s access to the open sea here, and now the Finnish coast is being added.

NATO is thus moving very close to the port of Murmansk. Belonging on paper is no longer a threat as long as Putin does not start a war with NATO countries. But sooner or later membership may be followed by military institutions. Electronic listening posts and early warning systems, missile sites, airports and other bases. And they would actually turn the previously free and neutral areas into restricted zones for Russia’s military.

Small states strong military

Both states are not exactly populous. Finland has about 5.5 million inhabitants, Sweden about 10.5. This limits the size of the military. The Swedish armed forces have about 15,000 soldiers, about half of them in the army. But here the so-called Home Guard of 21,000 soldiers is added. Sweden has 120 Stridsvagn 122 main battle tanks – an improved variant of the Leopard 2A5 and 509 modern CV-90 infantry fighting vehicles. The Archer 155 mm mobile howitzer is one of the most modern systems in the world. There are also 96 Saab JAS-39 Gripen jets. Furthermore, Sweden has a powerful navy for coastal defense and the troops are very well equipped with portable anti-tank weapons.

Smaller Finland has a much stronger military. The total strength is 23,000 men. In Finland, the military is deeply rooted in the population, similar to Switzerland. Due to the previous strict neutrality, the armed forces of these states were not drawn into the dubious military “interventions” of the West. So far, at least, they have been used solely for national defence.

War of the Reserves

The size of the armed forces in Finland is enormously increased by the reservists. In case of defense, Finland can mobilize half a million of them. They are not just people on lists. Finland keeps the necessary equipment ready and in good working order for the reserve units. Scoffers say that reserve material in Finland is in better condition than regular force equipment in many NATO countries.

Coupled with the terrain favoring the defender, it is hard to imagine waging a successful ground war against Finland. The enormous manpower of the reservists would prohibit an attack from the outset, as long as armies were not raised as in the Second World War, an attacker would not even establish a superior troop strength in individual sectors.

Although main battle tanks are not the focus, little Finland has 100 active Leopard 2A6s and 100 Leopard 2A4s in storage. The Air Force has 62 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets, which will be replaced by 64 Lockheed Martin F-35s from 2026. By then at the latest, Finland will have a far more powerful air force than Germany. The artillery can illustrate the strength of Finland: Helsinki has 740 guns, 72 self-propelled howitzers and over 1200 mortars in service.

The military of both countries is certified to have a good level of training in the troops. It is a long time since Swedish soldiers took part in major wars. Since the Second World War, Finnish soldiers have been considered tough and strong and, like the troops of the Red Army, also ready to continue fighting under very difficult, if not hopeless, conditions.

Countries without poisoned dowries

Conclusion: Sweden and Finland are a great asset for Allianz. Both countries are well defended and together with Norway could defend Scandinavia against Putin on the ground. Even in the medium term, the presence of NATO on its territory will drastically reduce Russia’s ability to develop military power in the Baltic region.

The accession of Finland and Sweden dramatically increases the security of the Baltic States and thus of Poland. At the same time, power projections in the North Atlantic and parts of the Arctic are becoming more difficult for Russia. In addition, the security gains from the Scandinavian countries are not politically burdened or even poisoned. Both states have no dispute or make territorial claims to their neighbors. So very different from Turkey, for example, from whose geopolitical situation NATO benefits, but is also drawn into the dispute between Turkey and Greece and has to live with both Erdogan’s very idiosyncratic expansion policy and the war against the Kurds.