In response to the Russian war on Ukraine, neighbouring countries have decided to take concrete steps towards strengthening their air security. On October 13, 2022, fourteen NATO member countries, plus Finland, signed a Letter of Intent initiating the development of a “European Sky Shield Initiative” (NATO, n.d.). The European Sky Shield Initiative creates a joint defence system “through the common acquisition of air defence equipment and missiles by European nations” (NATO, n.d.). Furthermore, the project enhances interoperability between the countries and strengthens NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence (NATO IAMD).
Since the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 1949, the Nordic countries or Scandinavian countries remained divided on their willingness to join the Alliance. Whereas Norway, Denmark, and Iceland directly joined NATO, Sweden and Finland chose not to. Nevertheless, although NATO’s security provision and mutual military assistance is apparent, it is less evident what Finland and Sweden would provide to the North Atlantic Alliance and how they would strengthen NATO’s strategic position.
The 18th of May 2022 marked a major moment in the history of Finland and Sweden. After years of commitment to neutrality and non-alignment, both countries handed their official letters of application to join NATO. Their applications were warmly welcomed by most of the Allies, except for Turkey. Even though nothing has been concretised yet, the prospects of such an integration seem as exciting as they seem challenging.
Six weeks after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and as talks are getting louder about a possible integration of Sweden into NATO, the Försvarsmakten (Swedish Armed Forces) announced on 4 April 2022 that it had signed a technical agreement with Finland, Estonia, and Latvia to cooperate in a joint-procurement effort. These countries will thus jointly develop a new 6×6 armoured personnel carrier (APC) under the Finnish-led Common Armoured Vehicle System (CAVS) programme, in cooperation with the Finnish armoured vehicle manufacturer Patria.
Over the past few weeks, the discussion over the future of Ukraine has widely caught the attention, especially in Europe, where President Putin and Biden are meeting to re-draw the map of security priorities of the European continent. The increasing military activity of Moscow near the Ukrainian border and its demands can be interpreted as a return to the “Cold-War spheres of influence”.