Moscow -

Sweden and Finland may become the 31st and 32nd members of NATO, and if that happens, Russia will become on the borders of 7 countries in "NATO", instead of 5: Estonia and Latvia, through the Kaliningrad region, Lithuania and Poland, as well as with Norway in the Murmansk region. .

Having been neutral in relations with Russia, Sweden and Finland intend to apply for NATO membership soon.

The alliance promises the two countries to study the request as soon as possible.

NATO Secretary General with the ambassadors of Sweden (right) and Finland in a ceremony held in Brussels on the occasion of their countries' request to join the alliance (French)

geography and time

The total length of Russia's border with the countries of the Atlantic Alliance is currently 1,200 km.

Meanwhile, Russia shares a 1,300-kilometre border with Finland, which means that NATO's presence on Russia's borders will double in the near future.

It is not yet clear when this will happen.

But Russian observers believe that even if the accession procedures are simplified as much as possible, as promised by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, approval of all procedures will inevitably take months.

These observers also believe that the statements heard in the media that Sweden and Finland will become full members of the coalition in the summer, are far from reality.

In fact, Helsinki and Stockholm would have to send at least two letters (of interest and intent) to Brussels, to become observer members of NATO, and then wait for the special protocols to be signed by the NATO countries.

The process of ratification of the accession of the two countries may take from 4 to 12 months.

eastward expansion

Countering NATO's eastward expansion is one of the stated goals of Russia's military operation in Ukraine.

In response to the Finnish and Swedish intentions, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it would conduct a comprehensive analysis of "the consequences of the new formation of the forces", and promised a political response.

This followed an earlier, also harsher statement by the State Department, in which Finland and Sweden warned that they would be on the "NATO front line", and urged the two countries to consider the consequences.

Demonstrators in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, against the Russian war on Ukraine (Reuters)

multipolar syndrome

"The special operation in Ukraine did not affect the plans of the northern neighbors to disengage from Russia and join NATO," says Dmitry Kim, a researcher on international security and defense affairs, and that "attempts to drag them" have been made before.

And he continues, in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net, that the West deliberately ignores Russia's repeated signals that NATO aims for confrontation, and that its further expansion will not bring more security to Europe, given the aggressive nature of the alliance, as he put it.

He points out that the expansion of the NATO bloc to the east due to the possibility of Sweden and Finland entering it, and the doubling of the borders of the military alliance, are an example of the policy of pressure pursued by the West, and the multipolar complex, which contradicts the sovereign rights of countries.

In his opinion, this cannot change anything in ensuring Russia's security, stressing that it is fully guaranteed.

But after assessing all potential threats, Kim says, Moscow's response will be proportionate.

On the other hand, the researcher believes that the process of joining Sweden and Finland to NATO will not go smoothly, given the position of Turkey and Croatia opposing changes in the structure of the military alliance.

The Russian expert believes that the deployment of Atlantic weapons on the territory of these countries will not change the proportionality of the balance of power, as Russia will remain - according to his opinion - superior in terms of the size of the presence and the military arsenal.

However, he points out that in the future it is possible to expect changes in the balance of power in the Baltic Sea, which necessitates measures to strengthen and modernize the borders between Russia and NATO countries, "as the entry of Finland and Sweden into the alliance will strengthen its presence in the Baltic Sea, and if we exclude the Russian waters area (soon) Petersburg, the former capital of Tsarist Russia), the Baltic Sea may become Atlantic.”

Initial responses

But in the first response, Moscow did not delay in stopping the supply of electricity to Finland (the officially stated reason was due to non-payment).

The Russian gas giant also confirmed the halting of supplies of blue fuel to Finland, after Gazprom and Jasom celebrated last November the 50th anniversary of the first contract for the supply of Russian gas to Finland and the start of deliveries via a gas pipeline that was signed on 19 November 1971.

However, the expert in international relations, Sergei Bersanov, speculates that in economic terms, Russia could deal a "very painful blow to Finland" in response to its accession to NATO;

In the first six months of 2021, Finland increased gas imports from the Russian Federation by 35% (up to 1.035 billion cubic meters), and the share of Russian blue fuel in total supplies to the country at the end of the year amounted to 92%.

At the same time, Bersanov continues, it seems clear that given the sharp change in public opinion about alliance membership, specifically in Finland, Helsinki will not reverse its decision in any way.

It is likely that the efforts of Russian diplomats on the issue of the accession of Finland and Sweden will focus on the two countries taking the somewhat moderate line of Estonia, and not Poland, which is the most enthusiastic in inviting the US military to its territory.