NATO's Nordic Neophytes: How Sweden & Finland's Accession to NATO Alters the Military Balance in Northeast Europe

Sandwiches will be available from 12.40

Does the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO alter the strategic balance in the Baltics? Stockholm and Helsinki’s recent decision to join the alliance has rendered most analyses on this question moot, as extant scholarship has focused on how the two countries could cooperate with NATO outside the alliance. To redress this gap, this paper assesses how Nordic NATO expansion shifts the military balance in northeast Europe by leveraging a mixed-methods approach of campaign models and elite interviews. Our campaign analyses suggest the addition of Sweden and Finland expands NATO force projection capabilities while simultaneously increasing the strain on Russia’s regional air defense network. Interviews allow us to corroborate these findings against the strategic assessments of key NATO and European policymakers, and to probe the extent to which their strategic judgements mirror popular discourse around NATO expansion. Our findings have critical policy and academic implications, suggesting that Swedish and Finnish accession strengthen NATO’s ability to reinforce the Baltics. Consequently, Nordic expansion is expected to reduce the odds of a Russian fait accompli in the region—thereby strengthening deterrence.