Global Affairs

How Putin became Nato's recruiter of the year

Russia's invasion of Ukraine was the tipping point for Finland and Sweden to seek Nato membership - a move that has implications for European security and beyond

New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

A doctored photo making the rounds on social media pretends to show Russian President Vladimir Putin smiling broadly as he receives from Mr Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of Nato, a prize for being "Nato's Recruiter of the Year".

A prank, of course, but one that points to one of Europe's bitter ironies. President Putin's ostensible reason for invading Ukraine was to prevent that country from joining the US-led military alliance in Europe, an organisation he regards as a fundamental threat to Russia. Yet not only has he failed to subdue Ukraine, but his invasion has persuaded Finland and Sweden - two European nations that until now have kept out of all military alliances - to join Nato. A bigger own goal for Russia can hardly be imagined.

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and straitstimes.com

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2022, with the headline How Putin became Nato's recruiter of the year. Subscribe