Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Finland and Sweden Are Done With Deference to Russia

By Elisabeth Braw

05 Jan 2022 · 6 min read

“Handsome hero, Kaukomieli/Wandered through Pohyola’s chambers/Through the halls of Sariola/How the hero went unbidden/To the feasting and carousal/Uninvited to the banquet.” Thus goes Rune 27 of the Kalevala, Finland’s national epic—known to the rest of the world through Jean Sibelius’s Kullervo symphonic poem.

Throughout its short history as an independent nation, Finland has been left uninvited to many banquets, but these days, the doors to the Western world’s preeminent banquet, NATO, are wide open to Finland and its neighbor Sweden. And as Finland’s president and prime minister made clear in twin New Year’s messages, Finland intends to decide for itself—without consulting Russia first—on whether to join the alliance.

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