Vladimir Putin has long feared NATO expansion, often citing it as a reason for the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. However, following the invasion two years ago and continued Russian threats, the defense alliance has grown instead.
Finland has become a full member, and this week Sweden has made significant strides towards the same status. Ukraine has also intensified its aspirations to join NATO.
After Turkey voted yes to Swedish membership, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has loosened the reins, stating that a vote on Sweden's NATO membership should happen as soon as possible.
"We will continue to urgently urge the Hungarian National Assembly to vote for Swedish NATO membership at the earliest opportunity," Orbán expressed yesterday.
The announcement is described by many as a severe blow to Putin and Russia.
Orbán is considered one of the dictator's few allies within NATO, and Wednesday's announcement is one of several indications that any potential support for Russia in the military alliance is dissolving, as reported by Newsweek.
On the same day, Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico, who has openly made pro-Russian statements and withdrawn military support to Ukraine, signed a statement supporting "Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty."
The American newspaper describes these transitions as a "nightmare" for Putin.
Russia is now completely alone in the Baltic Sea area – apart from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad between Lithuania and Poland.
"There's Nothing He Can Do"
"Putin is fully aware that there's not much he can do," says Erwan Lagadec, a professor at the George Washington University Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, to Newsweek.
The researcher refers to NATO's continued expansion.
"His military is already overstretched in Ukraine."
The Russian president recently claimed that he is interested in "developing relations" with NATO members and sees no reason to conflict with the member countries.
However, countries like Finland, Poland, and the Baltic states have been repeatedly threatened with harsh rhetoric and aggression from Russia.