A Swedish soldier takes part in an exercise on May 17, 2022. His country, including Finland, now wants to join NATO.
Jonathan Nextrand | AFP | Getty Images
Russia has become increasingly isolated from the rest of Europe over the past 30 years, and continental maps illustrate just how drastic the change has been.
Finland and Sweden announced their intention to join the NATO military alliance this week, ending a decade-long history of military neutrality in both countries. Russia’s plan to invade Ukraine in late February was to prevent it from joining NATO.
Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014, when a civilian uprising ousted a pro-Russian leader. Ukraine later sought military training and assistance from Western countries but was not admitted to NATO.
NATO countries are bound by agreements to protect each other. Like Ukraine, Finland shares a long border with Russia.
Europe in 1990
In 1990, the year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Russian-occupied Soviet Union included Ukraine, the Baltic states and other now-independent states. The Warsaw Pact, a Russian-dominated alliance, includes six satellite countries that are now independent.
In 1990, the year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia dominated the Soviet Union and the six Allied Warsaw Pact countries.
Bryn Bache | CNBC
Europe in 2022
In the last 32 years, Germany has reunited and all former Warsaw Pact countries have joined NATO. The three countries that were once part of the Soviet Union – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – have also joined NATO.
By 2022, NATO has expanded to three former Soviet states and all former Warsaw Pact countries.
Bryn Bache | CNBC
Although Sweden and Finland want their Nordic neighbors to join NATO, admissions could take months or be blocked altogether.
Turkey, a member of NATO since 1952, has objected to the entry of the two countries, calling the Scandinavian countries “guesthouses of terrorist organizations”.