In Geopolitics This Week
More Economic and Military Aid Promised to Ukraine, Finland and Sweden Apply to Join NATO, Turkey Looks to Secure Concessions from NATO Expansion
More Economic and Military Aid Promised to Ukraine
While Ukraine continues to rule out a ceasefire or any form of settlement that would see the country cede territory to Russia, a marked increase in military and economic aid has been promised toby the United States and other Group of Seven (G7) economies. US President Joe Biden signed a bill granting $40 billion in aid to Ukraine, while financial leaders from G7 countries agreed on a $9.5 billion economic aid package to Ukraine. The increased support aims to bolster Ukraine's war effort while maintaining economic stability in the country going forward.
Bankers, financiers and economists from members of the G7 all agreed on a further $9.5 billion in financial assistance for Ukraine as part of a promise to keep the country's economy afloat. Finance ministers and central bank governors from the US, Japan, Canada, Britain, Germany, France and Italy said that with the new agreement, their support for Ukraine in 2022 so far amounts to $19.8 billion. $10.3 billion of this aid has already been distributed by the G7 economies to Ukraine, while the addition of a further $9.5 billion is said to consist of $7.5 billion in grants by the United States, $1 billion in grants by Germany, and a further $1 billion covered by the other G7 countries.
Parallel to increased economic aid to Ukraine by the G7 economies, a new bill approved by the Biden administration will see $6 billion go toward providing direct military assistance in the form of equipment, weapons, logistics support, supplies and services, salaries, and intelligence support directly to the military forces of Ukraine. While a significant part of the aid will go to Ukraine's armed forces, a considerable amount of this aid will go to other institutions. Of the total $40 billion in assistance outlined by the measure, $9.05 billion has been designated for replenishing US weapons stockpiles depleted by previous weapons transfers to Ukraine. Moreover, $3.9 billion of the total amount will go toward European command operations seeking to improve military readiness across the entirety of NATO's eastern flank. A further $600 million will go toward enabling faster missile production and expanded capacity of strategic and critical minerals in the US.
In addition to the $40 billion pledged for Ukraine, the White House is also reportedly working on sending advanced anti-ship missiles to Ukraine. The transfer of long-range anti-ship missiles would be intended to help Ukraine destroy Russian naval assets in the Black Sea and thereby break Russia's ongoing naval blockade of Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have confirmed that deliveries of advanced anti-ship weapons “are being discussed.” Reports indicate that the Harpoon and the Naval Strike Missile are currently being considered for either direct shipment or via a transfer through a NATO ally. If carried out, the delivery of either of these advanced US-made anti-ship missiles would be sure to threaten Russia's Black Sea fleet, and may even work to break the Russian blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea ports.
Finland and Sweden Apply to Join NATO
The governments of Finland and Sweden have submitted formal requests to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In doing so, the two Nordic countries confirmed that they will be ending decades of military non-alignment by seeking entry into a military alliance with collective defence obligations. Though expected to be supported by a majority of NATO's member states, the joint NATO accession bid by the Nordic countries has already run into some resistance from NATO member Turkey.
Military non-alignment has been a central tenet of Swedish international identity for two centuries, and both Finland and Sweden have coordinated on non-aligned security policies for decades. In recent years however, the militaries of both countries have jointly worked to develop a degree of interoperability with NATO. After years of cohabitation and joint drills with the alliance, these two Nordic countries are now formally confirming this growing cooperation at a time of increased regional military tensions between NATO and Russia. Their entry will work to strengthen the alliance as a whole, particularly in regards to NATO's military posture in northern Europe and the Arctic region.
In the event that NATO membership for both Finland and Sweden becomes a reality, strategic calculations resulting from such a NATO enlargement may lead to increased militarization in the Arctic in the context of NATO-Russian competition. The Kola Peninsula in particular is likely to increasingly come under the focus of NATO due to the fact that the Peninsula is home to Russia’s Northern Fleet. The submarines based here are a critical part of Russia’s nuclear deterrence strategy, and, in combination with other forces stationed in the region, these vessels underpin the bulk of Moscow's maritime nuclear second-strike capability. NATO missiles stationed in Finland could reduce the flight-time to Russia's Northern Fleet, reducing the amount of time Russia has to respond to such strikes. This in turn would influence Russian threat perceptions and likely compel Moscow to further militarize the Peninsula over the coming months.
Turkey Looks to Secure Concessions from NATO Expansion
One roadblock to Finland's and Sweden's NATO bids could come from veto-wielding Turkey, which has signalled objections to this latest enlargement of NATO. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already put the brakes on a fast-track NATO accession process for the Nordic countries, and he has stated that Turkey does not feel “positively” about the enlargement. At the same time, Erdogan has implied that his government may accept both countries' NATO bids if certain concessions are made to Ankara.
In effect, Erdogan has threatened to veto Sweden's and Finland's efforts to join NATO unless both countries take Turkish “security concerns” into consideration. Turkey’s main objection is the presence and prominence of members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Sweden and Finland. Ankara has complained in the past whenever Swedish ministers held meetings with Kurdish politicians it accuses of having ties to the PKK, and Turkey continues to view the PKK as a serious national security threat. Turkish officials have stressed that Ankara has “legitimate security concerns” over Finland's and Sweden's support of “terrorist organizations.”
Most of the Turkish protests seem to relate to Sweden, which has a large Kurdish diaspora. While Sweden banned the PKK in 1984 and Finland in 2002, the PKK has continued to raise funds and and organize activities through shell organizations or partners in Sweden. Turkey has demanded that both the Nordic countries end support for Kurdish groups present on their territory, extradite their leaders, and lift a ban on sales of certain weapons to Turkey. Turkish officials stated that Ankara is “not closing the door” for Sweden and Finland to join NATO, and have expressed a desire to enter into a “negotiation” with their Swedish counterparts.
Talks are now taking place to find a compromise over the issues, though there has been no sign of a breakthrough thus far. Following a telephone call between Turkish officials and officials from Sweden, Finland, Germany, the UK and the United States, the Turkish government maintained that Ankara's “expectations were not met.” Since neither Sweden nor Finland appears to be under any kind of imminent threat from Russian military forces, Turkey has some time to delay the accession process in order to gain concessions from both Nordic countries. If Turkey’s objections can be overcome, approval for membership could come within weeks, while ratification by the governments of all NATO member states could take much longer.