4 APRIL 2023 | OPINION
Today, on 4 April 2023, Finland becomes the 31st member of NATO.
This is a very good day for NATO and European Security and a terrible one for conspiracy theorists, Kremlin propagandists and useful idiots all over the globe.
Let me explain…
15 months ago, when I began speaking on radio and TV as a Ukraine expert, the biggest lie I consistently had to rebut was that the threat of Russia’s further invasion – and ultimately its actual further invasion – was caused by NATO expansion and encroaching on Russia’s borders.
We’ve been poking the bear, the idiots wailed. It’s like the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, the hard-of-thinking added. The US wouldn’t tolerate Russia / USSR setting up shop in Cuba or, say, Mexico.
These comparisons were always, of course, facile and illegitimate.
Oh, and let’s not forget the notion that NATO broke its promise, given sometime around 1997, not to expand eastwards. I heard that one trip off the tongue of Kremlin assets, witting and unwitting, so many times that it must have been true – only it was not. No such undertaking was ever given. It was another Kremlin lie, enthusiastically amplified and pushed by the useful idiot class everywhere.
While we are on the subject of undertakings, one big 1990s promise was broken. In 1994, Russia signed up to the Budapest Memorandum, guaranteeing Ukraine’s territorial integrity in return for unilaterally giving up the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal.
Russia spat on that historical document in 2014 with the invasion of Donbas and the illegal annexation of Crimea. It has continued to walk all over it since, particularly after 24 February last year.
NATO is a defensive alliance. It was never about to attack or invade Russia. So, using NATO expansion as a pretext and even just for the further invasion of Ukraine was always wrong and a plain lie.
So many Eastern European countries joined due to fear of a Russia that, unlike many of us in the West, they knew all too well from Soviet times.
Finland shares a border of 1,340km with Russia. When their intention to join was first announced last summer, what was Russia’s response?
They withdrew forces from the border to redeploy them to Ukraine.
And let’s not forget that Ukraine is not even a member of NATO. Had she been, Russia almost certainly would not have invaded in 2014 and further invaded in 2022.
As an Irishman, I have aspired all my life for my homeland to become a ‘great little country’. Finland, with a population similar to the Republic of Ireland, is a great little country in many ways.
Last year, I listened to a former PM of Finland being interviewed and telling us how his country could mobilise 200,000 soldiers at 24 hours’ notice, with a reserve of 900,000. Finland also has one of Europe’s largest and most lethal artillery arsenals; with 700 howitzers, it has more than France and Germany combined.
The Kremlin will, of course, rant and rave about further NATO expansion. This has started already. But that’s all they will do. That’s all bullies ever do when faced with someone bigger and tougher than themselves.
Let’s not forget that the last time Russia invaded Finland – in 1938 – it did not end well for the Kremlin.
As for the useful idiots, they are going to need to find a new tune.