RIGA - Countries that were neutral before the Russian invasion of Ukraine are finally aware of the global threat posed by the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Martins Vargulis, a researcher at the Latvian Institute of Foreign Affairs, told LETA.
Commenting on the involvement of Finland, Sweden and Switzerland in imposing sanctions on Russia and supplying arms to Ukraine, the researcher noted that the perception of some countries has changed dramatically. As no scenario can be ruled out at the moment, and in order to reduce Putin's ability to brandish his power, all means, both economic and military, are being used in this case, thus supporting not only Ukraine, but also weakening Russia's economy and lessening the country's military potential.
Speaking about Switzerland, which consistently maintained neutrality during the First and Second World Wars, Vargulis pointed out that it is a question of which side the country decides to take. In the case of Switzerland, the answer is gradually becoming clear. In the 21st century, Switzerland is also a country that has advocated an international system based on legal frameworks, responsibilities and agreements in which diplomacy prevails over a world free of this kind of aggression.
"Definitely, Switzerland does not want to be a part of the world where there is such an aggressor, so Switzerland's involvement is justified and its position is also supported by society," said Vargulis.
Asked about Finland and Sweden possibly joining NATO, the researcher noted that this is also important from the military perspective of the Baltic States - the deployment of Allied forces would be much more efficient and faster if Finland and Sweden were members of NATO.
Vargulis pointed out that Finland and Sweden are strong military states and that their contribution to NATO would be significant, which would completely change the way the Kremlin calculates and plans. As for Finland, the debate on joining NATO has resumed and taken an unprecedented turn.
"Public opinion, according to the latest sociological polls, is that more than half of the population support Finland's accession to NATO. As a result, political discussions have begun in parliament. If Finland shows interest and makes such a decision, I have no doubt that NATO's accession process will be very fast, "said the researcher.
He acknowledged that a final response or agreement had not yet been reached from Finland, but discussions are ongoing.
He stressed that, like Latvian society, many other populations, including in Sweden, have legitimate concerns about what will happen if, for example, the operation in Ukraine is successful and whether it will stop Russia. According to Vargulis, these questions are being asked not only in the Baltic States, but also in Finland, Sweden and Switzerland.
"It has encouraged the public to talk again about the protection of joining NATO. Discussions are also taking place in Sweden. Although negotiations on this have not gone as far as in Finland, support for NATO has increased in Sweden as well," said the researcher.