- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
On February 24, 2022 Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine, aiming to liberate the Donbass region where the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk had been living under regular attacks from Kiev's forces.

Finnish Foreign Policy Heavyweight Touts Alliance With Sweden as Alternative to NATO Membership

© AP Photo / Jussi NukariBoats of the Finnish Border Guard patrol the waters outside Helsinki
Boats of the Finnish Border Guard patrol the waters outside Helsinki - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.04.2022
Russia's special operation in Ukraine has tilted opinion polls in Finland and Sweden in favour of NATO for the first time in history, fuelling a hot debate about joining the alliance in the corridors of power.
It is better for Finland to create a defence alliance with Sweden than to join NATO, former Foreign Minister and heavyweight Social Democrat Erkki Tuomioja has suggested.
Tuomioja, deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, a member of the Defence Committee, and the leader of the Social Democrats' working group on defence issues, is sceptical of Finnish membership in NATO and says the country's current security arrangement is relatively safe.

"We have a trained military reserve of 280,000 soldiers – not even larger countries in Europe have more", Tuomioja told the newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet.

According to Tuomioja, the United States would play a role as a third outside partner in the alliance.
"That could be enough. It would not cause the same potential problems as NATO membership", he mused.
He furthermore ventured that such in-depth cooperation has already been discussed between Swedish and Finnish Social Democrats, currently in power in both nations.

"We have had digital meetings with the Social Democrats in the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees in both countries. We have taken up the matter and there has been no negative reaction", Tuomioja said.
Yet, according to Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist, the Finnish-Swedish defence alliance is currently "not on the table".

"I do not comment on confidential conversations. There is no such proposal on the table, and nothing else either in the discussions we have with the other parties in the Swedish Parliament", Hultqvist said, as quoted by national broadcaster SVT.

His Finnish counterpart Antti Kaikkonen has voiced similar thoughts.
"Sweden is our closest partner in defence cooperation. We have started working more closely together and will probably continue to do so. But we don't have any preparations for a mutual defence alliance of the kind", Kaikkonen said.
U.S. Marines participate in a military exercise called Cold Response 2022, gathering around 30,000 troops from NATO member countries plus Finland and Sweden, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, near Bjerkvik in the Arctic Circle, Norway, March 24, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.04.2022
Finland & Sweden May Reportedly Seek NATO Membership by Summer
Russia's special operation to demilitarise and "de-Nazify" Ukraine and held in support of the People's Republic of Donbass, which the West portrays as an "invasion", has fuelled the perennial NATO debate in the historically non-aligned nations of Finland and Sweden, with several surveys indicating growing support for joining the alliance. In a recent poll by Yle, 71 of 112 MPs (about 63 percent) indicated support for the idea, following previous polls with similar results among the general public.
Among others, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said it was time for Finland to "seriously reconsider" its stance on NATO, while her Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson said she "didn't exclude NATO membership in any way", despite previously being against joining the alliance.
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