Maija Harkonen, director of the CMC Washington Program writes:
The Claremont McKenna College DC Ath panel discussion “Putin’s War in Ukraine and its Implications to the European Security Architecture” took place on Thursday, May 30th at K & L Gates in Washington DC.
The panelists included Mikko Hautala, Ambassador of Finland to the United States, Ian Brzezinski, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Rear Admiral, Jonas Wikström, and Richard C. Johnson ‘01, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Policy at the Department of Defense. Dr. Maija Harkonen, Director of the Washington Program moderated the discussion.
The event started with breaking news from Ambassador Hautala that just minutes ago, Turkey’s parliament had finally voted in favor of Finland’s membership in NATO. All 30 current NATO members must approve an application for membership and Turkey was the last NATO member to do so.
Sweden’s path to NATO membership is longer, noted Admiral Jonas Wikström, but Sweden is hopeful that Turkey will approve its membership request in the near future. Hungary is also delaying a vote on ratifying Sweden’s NATO accession bid, citing grievances over criticism of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s policies.
Finland and Sweden had for decades committed to non-alignment with NATO as a way of avoiding provoking Moscow. Russian latest invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 changed the public opinion in both countries. According to a late 2022 survey by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum, 73 percent of Finns had a positive attitude toward NATO membership.
The two Nordic countries are deeply concerned about their security. Finland has an 832-mile border with Russia and it had maintained good economic, cultural and diplomatic relations with Moscow for the most part of the Putin’s presidency. This changed when Russian president Vladimir Putin started the bloodiest conflict in Europe since the Second World War. Russia did not only violate the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. It also overthrew the post-Cold War international order.
Richard Johnson ‘01, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, pointed out that Mr. Putin has repeatedly threatened the West with nuclear weapons, and just a few days ago, announced that he will store some of them in Belarus. Russia already has nuclear missiles stationed in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave by the Baltic Sea.
How will the war end? Ian Brzezinski, who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy during the George W. Bush administration, said that the war ends when Russia withdraws its troops from all Ukrainian territory, including Crimea that Russia occupied in 2014.