West Asia Con: Bad to Put Pressure on Turkey

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The US needs to husband it’s Diplomatic Capital to convince Turkey to allow Sweden and Finland to join NATO, not alienate Turkey

Andrew Rettman, 1-10, 23, EU Observor, No sign of quick Nato deal, as Turkey and Sweden dig in, https://euobserver.com/nordics/156588

Turkey and Sweden have hit a wall in talks on Nato accession, with some predicting Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won’t give way till July. The deadlock comes after Sweden indicated it won’t extradite anybody else to Turkey just to please Ankara. “We have done what we said we would do, but they [Turkey] also say that they want things that we cannot or do not want to give them,” Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson said on Sunday (8 January). “We have complied with all parts of the agreement with Turkey and Finland, and we continue to implement them,” the Swedish foreign ministry also told EUobserver on Tuesday, referring to a pact on Nato enlargement between Ankara, Helsinki, and Stockholm. “It is up to Turkey to decide when ratification will take place. We cannot speculate on a specific date,” Sweden said. “I think, now they [Sweden] lost their patience and want to make the Erdoğan regime understand that they demand the impossible,” added Bülent Keneş, an exiled Turkish journalist in Stockholm. Sweden and Finland are ending decades of neutrality by joining Nato in reaction to Russia’s war in Europe, but Erdoğan has demanded Sweden hand over Keneş and 42 others in return for ratification. Swedish courts extradited two people but ruled Keneş can keep his asylum, before Sweden now claimed it has “complied with all parts” of Turkey’s request. Turkey had made similar demands of Finland, who extradited nobody. “Finland has constructively implemented the trilateral memorandum agreed in Madrid last year,” the Finnish foreign ministry also told EUobserver on Tuesday, when asked if there was anything left to do. The three capitals are meant to iron out their differences in a trilateral “contact group”. But this last met on 25 November and there is no date set for its first meeting this year. For his part, Finnish president Sauli Niinistö warned in a speech on 1 January: “It is possible that the delay will extend beyond the [Finnish] parliamentary elections this spring [April]”. Some EU diplomats fear the real deadline is the Turkish election in June. “Erdoğan needs a row to show voters he’s a strong man,” an EU contact said. “Two rich, Western countries seeking his accord, doing his homework, filing reports to him — it’s just too politically delicious,” he added. But one Turkey expert predicted Erdoğan will orchestrate the climax of his “drama” to coincide with the Nato summit in Vilnius in July. “Between the Turkish elections and the Nato summit will be the big moment for a breakthrough,” Asli Aydıntaşbaş, from the Brookings Institution, a think-tank in Washington, said. “It’s a question of his [Erdoğan’s] personality — he’s an insatiable negotiator and he sensed that the Swedes were willing to do anything, so his list kept getting longer”, she added. And ultimately, Keneş and Aydıntaşbaş added, Nato’s major powers will have to lean in to clinch a deal, in a final belittling of the Nordic sates. “In the end, the Americans will have to come into the room and push … it’ll take US intervention,” Aydıntaşbaş said. “If the US, the UK, France, and Germany among others put their weight on the issue they could easily solve the deadlock,” Keneş said. Nato speaks Nato and EU top officials already applied gentle pressure in remarks in Brussels on Tuesday. “Finland and Sweden agreed to lift restrictions on arms exports [to Turkey], that has already been done. And they also agreed to work more closely in the fight against terrorism, that is also taking place,” Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said. He underlined that both were covered by Nato’s Article 5 mutual-defence clause in de facto terms while awaiting ratification. “It’s inconceivable that Finland and Sweden will face any military threats without Nato reacting to that,” he said.

Pushing Turkey alienates Turkey

Middle East Eye, 12-13, 22, US ‘very concerned’ about potential Turkish incursion into Syria, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/us-very-concerned-about-potential-turkish-incursion-syria

“So anything we can do to de-escalate the situation and prevent that incursion by the Turks will be important,” he added. The US has been lobbying Turkey against an incursion over the last several weeks, but analysts are sceptical Washington’s warnings will dissuade the Turks. The US is also walking a tightrope as it looks to keep Turkey in its camp over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Finland/Sweden accession will strengthen deterrence and alliance cohesion to prevent widespread Russian aggression throughout Europe

Anna Wieslander, Eric Adamson, Jesper Lehto, Atlantic Council, 1-6, 23, How allied Sweden and Finland can secure Northern Europe, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/in-depth-research-reports/issue-brief/how-allied-sweden-finland-can-secure-northern-europe/

NATO is approaching its ninth round of enlargement. The accession of Sweden and Finland—two solid democracies and defenders of the international-rules based order—into the Alliance will strengthen the core of the transatlantic community. Their NATO membership opens up new opportunities to bolster regional deterrence and defense in Northern Europe, increase transatlantic burden sharing, and secure the Alliance as a whole in ways not previously possible.

This issue brief sets the stage by suggesting that the Alliance use the accession of Sweden and Finland to create an ambitious deterrence-by-denial “bubble” over Northern Europe. Such a strategy does not merely include military capabilities but must be underpinned by civil robustness and resilience that stretch across NATO territory. Operationally, allies in Northern Europe should prepare to assume greater responsibility as first responders in case of a severe security situation, below or at the level of Article 5. For this to succeed, political cooperation and agenda setting must intensify among Northern European allies.

In 2014, Northern Europe became a region of high tension at the forefront of global geopolitical competition, as a consequence of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its war in eastern Ukraine. In parallel, China started engaging in the region in search of both economic and political leverage, not least in the Arctic. In the June 2019 Atlantic Council issue brief Securing Northern Europe: Toward a Comprehensive Approach, we argued against the tendency to address the Baltic Sea, the North Atlantic, and the Arctic as separate regions, and instead proposed to view them as “one militarily and politically strategic area.”1 This perspective has increasingly become mainstream, as illustrated in the military assessment that the Swedish Armed Forces submitted to the government in November 2022. The 2019 issue brief explored the reasons behind such a proposition and advocated that Northern European states should develop a comprehensive approach that would help them simultaneously counter a revisionist Russia and the risks associated with decreased US engagement in Europe. Northern Europe, in this approach, encompasses Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, and the United Kingdom (UK). With Sweden and Finland joining NATO, the prospects for successful political and military regional integration in line with this comprehensive approach have increased substantially.

This report first sets the broader scene by describing how NATO is adapting to a world marked by great-power competition. It assesses the shifting nature of US engagement toward European allies. It then proceeds to describe how the accession of Sweden and Finland into NATO can serve as an opportunity for the Alliance to strengthen security structures, building on the perspective of Northern Europe as one geostrategic area, politically and militarily. Finally, the issue brief summarizes policy recommendations for actors who wish to promote peace and security in the region and beyond, using NATO as the main vehicle. Proposals are made along three dimensions.

Militarily, NATO should bolster its capabilities and aim to build an ambitious deterrence-by-denial bubble for Northern Europe, thereby securing and stabilizing an area at the forefront of global power competition. Such a bubble would also contribute to greater burden sharing in the Alliance, as it would primarily rely on regional resources.

NATO allies must underpin the deterrence-by-denial bubble with individual and joint measures to strengthen robustness and resilience across allied territory, using a comprehensive approach. Further cooperation between NATO and the European union (EU) is key in this regard.

Politically, more efforts must be made toward joint agenda setting and initiatives among Northern European allies, in order to succeed with the military ambitions and ensure the sustainability of NATO’s 360-degree approach.

What kind of NATO will Sweden and Finland join?

Sweden and Finland were invited to join NATO at the Madrid Summit on June 29, 2022. They will enter an Alliance in transition, from handling a world marked by cooperation to navigating a security environment characterized by confrontation. In response, NATO will significantly strengthen its deterrence and defense postures in Europe, especially along its Eastern flank. In addition, NATO will need to deal with China for the first time in its history. This, in turn, has implications for burden sharing and the long-term engagement of the United States, raising the bar for European allies to sustain US interest for a strong transatlantic community.

Despite military setbacks in Ukraine, Russia has proven both willingness and capacity to engage in a full-scale regional war. That is why it poses the “most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area” for the foreseeable future.2 To reduce the risk of being drawn into the war, NATO is seeking to even the playing field by bolstering its military posture. Only from a position of strength can Europe’s security architecture be rebuilt.

The United States is, therefore, investing in the transatlantic link, while “count[ing] on our Allies to continue assuming greater responsibility.”9 From the US perspective, Russia poses an immediate threat to the international system, but only China has the means and intent to reshape the international order. The United States, thus, makes clear that it is “prioritizing the [China] challenge in the Indo-Pacific, then the Russia challenge in Europe,” as Russia is viewed as a waning power over the medium to long term.10

Implications for Northern Europe

Russia’s size, power, and geographic proximity to the Baltic and Nordic states mean that it can never be dismissed as a dominant, and potentially aggressive, actor in the region. To prevent conflict from spilling over into wider Europe, regional deterrence is necessary and serves to secure the whole transatlantic area.

Russia is a threat to Northern Europe

Anna Wieslander, Eric Adamson, Jesper Lehto, Atlantic Council, 1-6, 23, How allied Sweden and Finland can secure Northern Europe, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/in-depth-research-reports/issue-brief/how-allied-sweden-finland-can-secure-northern-europe/

For Northern Europe, a key issue is the Russian ability to implement anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) zones in Kaliningrad and the Arctic through a combination of air- and maritime-defense systems, attack aircraft, midrange mobile missile systems, anti-submarine warfare capabilities, new classes of submarines equipped with long-range land-attack missiles, and cyber- and electronic-warfare capabilities.12 In 2015, NATO acknowledged the challenge, and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) at the time, General Philip Breedlove, referred to the zones as “bubbles.”Sydney Freedberg, “Russians in Syria Building A2/AD ’Bubble’ Over Region: Breedlove,”13 The Russian aim would be to limit freedom of movement in peacetime, reduce situational awareness and strategic anticipation in crisis, and prevent deployment of NATO troops and hinder reinforcements in times of conflict. The A2/AD zone in Kaliningrad affects NATO operations in the Baltic Sea and reinforcements to the Baltic states.14 The A2/AD zone also affects Sweden and Finland. Russia would have an advantage in the early deployment of air-defense systems on the islands of Gotland or Åland, strengthening its capacity to deny NATO access to airspace over the Baltic Sea. In the Artic, Russia has reestablished its multilayer “bastion of defense.”15 A crucial staging point for Russian operations in the North Atlantic is the Kola peninsula, which hosts a significant portion of Russian second-strike capability. In crisis or wartime, Russia would likely want to expand its strategic buffer zone around its military assets, such as its nuclear Northern Fleet, pushing into or hindering mobility on Swedish and Finnish territory on the Cap of the North.


Some analysts have questioned the Russian ability to create impenetrable bubbles.16 Regardless, NATO has been too passive, not taking sufficient advantage of its strengths to assure capacity to operate within its own territory. So far, NATO’s response has been to increase presence in peacetime in the air and the waters affected, and to invest in capabilities that could “break the bubble” in case shooting started. This needs to change, as the aim expressed in the strategic concept is to “deny any potential adversary any possible opportunities for aggression.”17 NATO should reflect on the fact that Russia uses its A2/AD strategy as part of its comprehensive approach to deterrence. If NATO could do the same, a new form of strategic balance could be established, which would serve to stabilize and prevent military conflict from breaking out.

With Sweden and Finland as allies, NATO can establish a robust deterrence-by-denial posture in a once contested and fragmented region, enhancing the security of all allies. The opportunities must effectively be capitalized upon. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the defeats its army has experienced have exposed its weakness. Russia’s preoccupation with the war should be used as an opportunity for NATO to build stronger and more efficient deterrence, stabilizing and paving the way for a more secure environment ahead. With a future position of strength, a new era of détente could be possible in a post-war context.