RUSSIA is bound to find it provocative that Finland and Sweden are giving up their historic stances of neutrality to join Nato, but it only has itself – or at least its president – to blame.

Nato has expanded eastwards since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1997, and, just looking at a map, it is possible to see why Russia, if led by a paranoid leader, might become edgy. Ending the expansion of Nato was one of the reasons that Putin gave for his invasion of Ukraine, which juts deep into Russian territory.

However, if Finland joins Nato, it will give the alliance an extra 810-mile border with Russia, and it might enable Nato armaments to be placed closer to Russia.

This is a historic change. Finland, which was invaded by Russia during the Second World War, has been militarily non-aligned for 75 years. Sweden, which stayed out of the world war, has been neutral for 200 years.

So threatened do they feel by Russia’s unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, followed by its barbaric treatment of Ukrainian civilians, that they are willing to give up their history to join Nato.

Who can blame them? If you lived next door to someone who behaves as violently and irrationally as Putin, you too would seek greater protection.

So it looks as if keeping Nato in its box is another of Putin’s war aims that has been unsuccessful.

But Nato does have to be sensible to Russian feelings. The Swedes have said they don’t want Nato bases, or nuclear weapons, on their territory and that seems a wise way of minimising the threat that Russia perceives.