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American researcher: ”Time for Finland to join Nato”

Finland should join Nato to avert the risk of a Russian invasion, according to one American researcher. He says that the Ukrainian crisis has already changed the world order significantly, and that countries in Russia’s neighbourhood should carefully consider their defence and security policies.

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Finland’s defence policy should now take an Atlanticist orientation, according to Robert Orttung, assistant director of George Washington University’s Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies. That's a view that has some support in Finland, as shown by the debate prompted by the current crisis in Ukraine.

There are also a number of pro-Nato voices on the other side of the Atlantic. Orttung believes that many European countries should re-evaluate their security policies in light of Russia’s moves in Ukraine.

”The main lesson I would draw from this if I was sitting in Finland or Sweden, is that this is a good time to join Nato,” Orttung told Yle. ”Unless your territorial integrity is guaranteed by Nato forces, Putin’s going to feel free to come and invade your country, and there’s nothing that Nato or the west can really do about it.”

The US and EU are currently considering expanded sanctions on Russia. Finland has sounded a cautious note about wider economic action, fearing it would hurt the highly significant trade with its eastern neighbour, but Orttung believes that targeted sanctions on key Russian officials might do the trick.

”The people who have real economic power, and real power over the media, the west needs to go after those people if it wants to make things difficult for Putin,” said Orttung.

According to Orttung, Russia’s actions in Ukraine have, in any case, changed the rules of the game. He says that while sanctions might hurt economically, business as usual with a Putin-led Russia would also carry some costs.

”As long as Putin’s in power he’s going to continue undermining and destabilising the situation in Ukraine, and that’s something the Ukrainians and their partners are going to have to deal with going forward,” said Orttung. ”Putin has sort of overturned all the usual rules that we’ve known since the end of the cold war, so Europeans will have to figure out what the balance is going to be between their political and economic interests.”

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