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Putin looks on during his meeting with the Lebanese president at the Kremlin in Moscow.

REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Is NATO expansion bad for Russia?

For the first time in nearly two decades, NATO just got a lot closer to Russia’s borders. At a summit in Madrid on Wednesday, alliance leaders formally invited Sweden and Finland to join, ending more than half a century of neutrality by both countries.

At the same time, the alliance adopted a new strategic plan in which Russia has gone from being the West’s “strategic partner” to its “most significant threat.” And to underscore the point, NATO is putting more than 300,000 troops on high alert against Russian aggression.

Looks pretty bad for Vladimir Putin, wouldn’t you say? Well, let’s consider a few perspectives.

Yes, of course it’s very bad. NATO’s border with Russia has just doubled to more than 1,600 miles, and those two new members are no strategic slouches. Sweden and Finland are both highly advanced militaries with decades of experience keeping a close eye on Russia, especially the Finns.

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