members of NATO. That may come as a surprise to many people - but take a look at a map and see where they lie in relation to Russia. Finland has a long border with Russia. Finland and Sweden are neighbours.
Russia, especially under Putin, has been threatening both Finland and Sweden of "serious consequences" should they join NATO. This has been going on for years. Despite this the two countries align with NATO. Have Russia's threats been sufficient to stop them joining NATO?
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all belong to NATO too. There can be no doubt that this infuriates Putin. Ukraine joining NATO would be a step too far...Putin sees the Ukraine as being part of Russia. He sees other territories as being Russian too.
So why did Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and other formerly Communist countries want to join NATO? My reasoning is that they wanted to keep their independence. As members of NATO they can expect military support in the event of an attack. These countries don't have expansionist plans. They simply want to survive. The Ukraine doesn't want to expand either. It simply wants to retain its independence and get on with life.
I suspect it is the same for most Russians. Watching protestors being led away it seems obvious that there is little appetite for war among ordinary Russians. For all those protesting there would be many more who don't want war but don't dare protest.
I still dread the likely outcome. The very fact that the Ukrainians have fought far harder than Putin obviously believed they would means this will be much messier than people hoped for.
Yesterday a local man said to me, "Putin is mad, bad and out of control". The problem is that he still seems to be in control. Nobody seems to be attempting to remove him. Prime Minister Mishustin has not been heard from in our local news. Previous Prime Minister Medvedev hasn't been heard from either - and he is the Deputy Chairman of their Security Council. (Putin is of course the Chairman.) If Putin continues as he is perhaps both men will soon be out of a job.
It is Putin who needs to be out of a job...and isolated in a cell somewhere in Siberia perhaps?