When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Putin's Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Russia Now Has An 800-Mile Border With NATO

Russia's president only has himself to blame for historically neutral Finland acquiring NATO status.

Photo of the flag of Finland being hoisted in front of NATO's headquarters in Brussels

Hoisting the flag of Finland in front of NATO's headquarters in Brussels

Pierre Haski


PARISVladimir Putin used to complain that NATO territory was advancing towards Russia: as of Tuesday, he now has 1,340 kilometers (833 miles) of common border with a nation that has been welcomed into the Atlantic alliance, with the accession of Finland as the 31st member of NATO.

But the Russian president will not be able to blame NATO’s expansionism: He can only blame himself for this expansion. A year ago, Finland was firmly anchored in its neutral status, and it took the Russian invasion of Ukraine to break it out.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

With Sweden, a country that has been neutral for even longer, the two Nordic neighbors quickly built a national consensus around the idea that it was no longer time for neutrality with a war on their doorstep. Decades of political posturing have been swept away in a few weeks — Putin has provoked the unthinkable.

But if there were two at the start (Sweden and Finland), there is only one left at the finish line: Sweden is stuck in the process of ratifying its membership, due to delaying tactics, mainly coming from Turkey. Stockholm will have to wait a few more weeks, at least until the Turkish election on May 15.

Concretely, Finland's membership does not evolve much, except that it is now covered by Article 5 of the Atlantic Charter, which provides for solidarity in case of aggression. For the rest, Finland is already up to NATO standards, and its defense is strong enough that it does not need reinforcements as is the case in Romania, Poland and the Baltic States.

Photo of road signs in at the Finland-Russia border

At the Finland-Russia border

Steffen Trumpf/dpa/ZUMA

A paradox 

The great paradox is that the government that carried out this historic turnaround was defeated in Sunday's parliamentary elections. The social-democratic prime minister, Sanna Marin, came third, behind the right and the far right parties.

Marin, who was only 34 when she became prime minister in 2019, has earned a strong international reputation for her uncompromising style.

The defeat will not change Finnish foreign policy

She found herself at the center of an incredible controversy when a video of her dancing with friends was leaked. She had to undergo a drug test, but confirmed that she would continue to live a normal life while running the government. But the real reason behind her defeat is her economic management.

This defeat will not change Finnish foreign policy. Petteri Orpo, the leader of the center-right party that came out on top, clearly reaffirmed his support for Ukraine on Sunday night, and, as Sanna Marin, he was as committed to NATO membership. Either way, it will take weeks to form a coalition, with the social democrats or with the far right, and the negotiations will be difficult.

Sweden also voted the social democrats out of office last year in favor of a right-wing-led coalition that included the far right.

Nordic countries have long been a land of social democratic conquest, marginalizing other political forces. That is a distant memory, and political alternations are frequent, even if the way of life shaped by decades of welfare state remains the norm. These turns do not affect the defensive posture of these countries: when faced with Putin, consensus is quickly found.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest