My previous post addressed what was then Turkey’s adamant opposition to Sweden joining NATO. As readers realize, a nation must receive unanimous approval from all current members of NATO in order to join the alliance. Turkey was withholding approval for reasons that were not entirely clear. Sweden’s addition to NATO would be beneficial to all member nations as it could only strengthen the alliance.  However, as NATO nations were gathering in Vilnius, Lithuania for an annual NATO meeting, Turkey suddenly switched its position and said it would allow Sweden into NATO and President Erdogan of Turkey said he would have the Turkish parliament vote on the matter soon.

What changed Turkey’s  mind so suddenly?

There are several possibilities but the whole story will likely remain a secret as the deal was reached away from public scrutiny. Some aspects of the deal have apparently been made known. In exchange for Turkey approving Sweden’s membership in NATO, the first link states that Sweden will support the application of Turkey to be a member of the European Union (EU). Turkey has wanted to be in the EU for years, but the EU nations have had their doubts about Turkey’s commitment to democracy, its role in Cyprus, etc (second link). The second link also suggests that Turkey may be allowed to purchase F-16s from the USA after Turkey’s approval of Sweden’s NATO membership is finalized. Such a deal has been held up for some time. These points suggested in the first and second links seem to be quite reasonable elements of an overall deal.

The only real loser in the deal to allow Sweden into NATO is Russia. Russia surely hoped its invasion of Ukraine would sow division inside NATO and weaken it as an alliance. The exact opposite has occurred. NATO has been quite unified in support of Ukraine, and it has been strengthened by the admission of Finland (and soon Sweden) into the NATO alliance. Russia is also losing on an on-going basis the longer this war lasts. Russia’s naked aggression and its constant missile and rocket attacks on civilian targets and apartment complexes informs all the NATO nations that they must spend more on their collective defense. In an unexpected way, the longer Russia prolongs its invasion of Ukraine, the stronger NATO will become. It is also likely true that Putin’s grip on power wanes the longer this war lasts. Reports of many tens of thousands of Russian deaths among its military ranks means that there are a steadily-growing number of grieving families inside Russia. Indeed, it may be that for Ukraine and NATO to accept an end to this war, Putin will have to leave as Russia’s leader. Indeed, the strange antics involving the leader of the Wagner Group’s “march on Moscow” may have been an orchestrated event to see which Russian generals were no longer trustworthy in their support of Putin.

At the Vilnius NATO conference, Ukraine has pressed hard for a timetable for Ukraine to join the NATO alliance. NATO has held off on any agreed-upon timetable as it does not want to have Ukraine join NATO while it is in an active war with Russia. Such an action would undoubtedly place all the NATO nations into a direct conflict with Russia–something not desired by the NATO nations. However, Ukraine did not go away empty-handed from the NATO conference. The third link and fourth link report that Turkey released to Ukraine five top Ukrainian officers who Russia thought would be quarantined inside Russia until the war was over. These officers were all commanders of Ukrainian forces defending the city of Mariupol who held off a Russian attack far longer than anyone thought possible. The reports indicate that Turkey took this action without bothering to even inform Russia that this would happen. Surely, Turkey wanted to do this as a fait accompli before Russia had a chance to do anything to stop it. So, Ukraine has gained five popular and skilled commanders while Russia was left angry and empty-handed in the deal.

The only recent bright spot for Russia in its Ukraine invasion is that the much-anticipated Ukrainian offensive seems to be making little progress, and (if media reports are accurate) the small gains are coming at the cost of significant Ukrainian casualties. Russia’s strategy seems to be to fight a war of attrition, hoping that the USA and NATO will reach the point where they can no longer afford to exhaust their remaining military stocks so the supply of weaponry to Ukraine dries up. If that happens, Ukrainian defenses could collapse quickly. This war should have convinced the NATO nations to “surge” their military weapons and ammo procurements, but the NATO nations have so far seemed rather complacent about this risk.

How will the war between Russia and Ukraine end? None of us knows for sure. From a biblical perspective, this war is not mentioned in any prophecy. The latter days of our age were prophesied to be a violent time characterized by “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6-7), and the Russian-Ukrainian war shows that this biblical prophecy can be fulfilled by large regional wars as well as smaller, local wars. If there are any readers of this post who doubt that we are living in the “latter days” of our age, please read my free article, Are We Living in the Biblical Latter Days? That article contains strong evidence that the Bible’s prophecies foresaw events and trends concerning our current time that could not possibly have been known except by an all-powerful Creator Being who could monitor world events and intervene as needed to make sure his prophecies were fulfilled according to his revealed will.