Visit of heads of government: Finland and Sweden hail “German leadership”

visit heads of government
Finland and Sweden hail ‘German leadership’

By Sebastien Huld

The war of Russian aggression against Ukraine is also upsetting the security policies of the militarily neutral countries of the North, Sweden and Finland. The heads of government of the two countries meet with the federal government and declare all the hopes they place in Germany.

If Germany, a world economic power, is threatened by the aggressive course of Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin, how should the small states in direct proximity to Russia fare? In any case, Finland, which shares 1,300 kilometers of land border with Russia, and Sweden, which, bordering the Baltic Sea, is also a neighbor of the giant Russian empire, are deeply affected by the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. “Russia’s attack has completely changed our security environment,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said during her visit to the cabinet meeting at Meseberg Castle. “And there is no turning back.”

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, who traveled to Meseberg with Marin, put it just as drastically: “The military attack on Ukraine has radically changed the situation, and this also has a dramatic impact on the security situation in Sweden. If the two politicians speak the same way, it is not only because they are social democrats like their host Olaf Scholz. In both countries, support for NATO membership has been growing for weeks. Andersson and Marin agreed to closely coordinate the reorientation of the security policy of their hitherto militarily neutral countries. A possible NATO membership should take place together and at the same time – also because Moscow has explicitly threatened both countries with consequences in this matter.

NATO membership is also important for Germany

The Chancellor is determined to accompany her two “close friends” on this path. If Helsinki and Stockholm want to join the military alliance, “they can count on our support,” Scholz said during the joint appearance. “The members of the government have made it clear here in unanimous talks,” he says, looking at ministers from the FDP and Green coalition partners who also met. There is no doubt that the Union, Germany’s largest opposition party, also supports this step. And yet, it is not trivial: with such spatial proximity – NATO would be significantly closer to Russian territory – the risk of intentional and unintentional border violations increases, and with it the occurrence of the dreaded case of the alliance , in which the whole NATO against an attacked member state should stand on the side of Russia.

Scholz is also aware that this can happen when he says: “It was clear to all of us that the borders would not be pushed back by force. Russia broke with this peace order and therefore no one should assume that the Russian President and the Russian government would not attack other countries on other occasions. Scholz recalls that his government has also decided to strengthen the Bundeswehr with a special debt program. Germany “will permanently devote two percent of its economic output to defence,” says Scholz.

Praise of the Scholz course

The intricacies of Germany’s debate over the €100 billion special fund — what all that spending includes and how far the spending target should be anchored in law — shouldn’t matter to partner countries. From now on, Germany will do much more to defend its own territory and that of its EU and NATO partners. This signal has arrived in the world. “We appreciate the Chancellor’s courageous decision,” Andersson said. “We too want to increase our defense spending to 2% as quickly as possible.” Marin says: “Finland appreciates Germany’s leadership role.

The two guests are impressed by Berlin’s invitation to the palace, where government cabinets traditionally meet. With this gesture, the federal government has impressively demonstrated its closeness to the unstable countries of the North. The fact that their heads of government congratulate Scholz, who is often criticized at home, for his Ukrainian journey makes this appointment a victory for all involved.

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