Nato allies: Why Finland and Sweden could tip the balance in war against Russia

Ukraine: Margarita Simonyan claims Russia fighting 'all of NATO'

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The Russian premier has recently stepped up his invasion of Ukraine, with soldiers focussed on the tactically significant port city of Mariupol. Ukrainian troops are struggling to face off advancing forces, with commanders suggesting they have a matter of days “if not hours” left as the surrender deadline passes. Scales tipped against them could easily swing the other way, experts believe, thanks to renewed interest in NATO from other nations that, like Ukraine, share a border with Russia.

Can NATO tip the scales against Russia?

The military alliance of 30 countries has provided valuable diplomatic support to Volodymyr Zelensky since the invasion of Ukraine began in February.

But it cannot directly intervene in the conflict due to the possibility of further provoking Putin and drawing the war into Western Europe and beyond.

Russia has lashed out against the military alliance for its slow creep to the east, and adding two nations to its ranks would deliver hundreds of miles of influence at the Russian border officials could not ignore.

Finland and Sweden are on the cusp of NATO membership, driven by threats from Russian officials hoping to discourage opposition.

That could upset a fragile balance in Eastern Europe, causing trouble for western militaries and their rivals.

Experts believe that welcoming two new eastern allies will backfire for NATO, tipping the scales towards all-out war.

Russia has already demonstrated the destabilising effect the new opposing presences on its border would have.

Moscow said last week that it would position nuclear weapons in the Baltic should they join while fortifying ground and air forces.

Russian security council member and former president Dmitry Medvedev said that the country would have “reinforce” borders around Finland and Sweden.

He said any talk of “nuclear-free status for the Baltic” would end in this instance.

Medvedev added that while his country has “not taken such measures and was not going to”, it would have to move if “our hand is forced”.

Those threats build on previous pledges from Kremlin officials to exact “serious political and military consequences” if NATO expanded.

Ultimately, that leaves the military alliance with a “security dilemma”, a Cold War concept that weaker nations building power end up on the wrong side of stronger neighbours hoping to consolidate theirs.

Experts believe this would lead Russia to two potential responses, either building its military or delivering a preemptive strike on potential new NATO recruits.

Academics writing in the i newspaper explained that Kremlin leadership could “seek to increase its own power through an arms race, or reduce the threat via its military”.

The current state of Russian technology would allow the country to pursue the latter option with a nuclear-tipped warhead.

Experts believe that scientists have not developed systems capable of identifying an incoming attack from a hypersonic missile.

These can deliver a warhead at five times the speed of sound, making them too fast for conventional detection methods.

A lack of early detection would allow Russia to strike before western nations launch a counter and survive the following conflict.

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