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Russia's war in Ukraine triggers seismic shift in Europe's security

Europe is entering a new chapter in security. It will be necessary for governments to not only declare their top priority the defense of their country, but also to demonstrate it through actions and investments.

Russia’s War in Ukraine has caused this seismic shift and done more to galvanise NATO defense alliance than any other event since its foundation over 70 years ago. This includes through the entire Cold War.

This is why Finland and Sweden, two historically neutral European countries, are set to apply for membership in the club despite warnings from Moscow. It’s a remarkable change in foreign policy and defense policy.

On Thursday, Finland’s leaders said that their country should apply.

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Ukraine offers the release of prisoners of war to injured steel plant fighters. Live updates

This was a eagerly awaited statement that indicated that a formal application could be made within days.

This altered landscape is also why the UK signed security pacts that guarantee to defend both Nordic countries should they be attacked.

The pledge has already drawn Helsinki and Stockholm closer together to the collective security offered by NATO, even before any formal move for a formal acced to the 30-member club.

These moves were unimaginable six months ago. Finland and Sweden had been balancing their relations both with Western allies as well as with Russia’s vast neighbour.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has the longest relationship with Vladimir Putin of any European leader.

He was considered the best person to lead efforts to mediate peace in the early days of war in Ukraine.

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Boris Johnson claims that Russia’s invasion invading Ukraine has opened a new chapter in European security arrangements

He has now triggered the start gun for his country to finally pick sides and join an alliance focused on containing the Russian threat.

At a press conference that was jointly held with Boris Johnson on Wednesday, Mr Niinisto stated that Mr Putin was responsible for the country’s recent change of heart.

He noticed how Moscow had effectively said to the Nordic neighbors that they couldn’t join NATO. Then, there was the war in Ukraine.

Continue reading:

UK agrees to protect Sweden and Finland

Finland to announce NATO bid

The Finnish president stated that “they are ready to attack another country.” “If this were the case, I would respond that they have attacked a neighboring country, then look in the mirror.”

Finland and Sweden seem to be prepared to adapt to the new security realities in Europe with actions, not just words.

They have a long history living with Russia’s threat and their people understand security well – something that isn’t the case for most of Europe.

This was conveniently highlighted by two questions that were asked to Johnson at the Helsinki press conference by British journalists.

One was about why the UK gave so much money and arms to Ukraine when many British citizens face a crisis of cost of living that makes it impossible to heat their homes.

Image British Prime Minster Boris Johnson and Finland’s President Sauli Ninisto

Another question was about how credible any British promise of military support for allies like Finland or Sweden is, given that the UK’s armed forces are only a fraction the size they were 30 years ago due to cost-savings and underinvestment.

These questions sum up the dilemma faced by western politicians since the end the Cold War: How to justify spending on defence when there is no imminent threat?

These examples also show a collective failure of political, military, and security leaders to explain how everything a society holds dear, such as access to healthcare, schools and employment, is destroyed when a nation comes under attack.

NATO member states were too quick to take advantage of what they saw as a peace dividend from the fall of the Soviet Union.

Priorities in funding were changed away from defense to health, education and the economy – these are important for improving living standards and popular among voters.

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This explains why there are just over 70,000 full-time soldiers in the British Army now, compared to almost twice that number in 1990.

According to Kremlin experts, Russia has not changed its war mentality in the same time period. Experts note that Moscow can draw from all parts of its economy to wage war and how it has never stopped fighting the West.

All of this was well-known and many experts have been warning Western leaders for years, but to no avail.

It took Russia to launch a full-scale invasion in Ukraine to finally wake these leaders or their successors up to this grim reality.

In Ukraine today, just being able to survive is a blessing, even if you consider health, education, and job prospects. Already, the war has killed thousands of people and forced millions of people to flee. It is now threatening to endanger the future of a generation.

It is not certain that Russia’s offensive against Ukraine will be contained within Ukraine’s borders.

The UK and other European countries should use the wake-up call to build their defense capabilities and their resilience to see if there is anything positive from this mess.

This is a difficult task that cannot be solved by mere rhetoric.

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