Russia's invasion of Ukraine has now boomeranged.
One of the concerns that Russia had cited for its invasion of Ukraine – that Nato is on the march and Ukraine wants to join the Western military alliance – gets a thrashing now that more European countries are on the verge of joining the block.
Finland has already applied for membership and Sweden has expressed its willingness. In the latest development, Switzerland, a vehemently neutral country even when World War 2 raged through the whole of Europe, also wants to jump on the bandwagon.
Finland has a real reason to worry with the memory of its invasion by the Soviet Union in 1939 that had to end with the Moscow Peace Treaty in 1940.
The worry that the Ukraine invasion triggered has now touched the Swiss as well.
Russia, as it looks now, will be more surrounded by Nato when these countries are granted alliance membership.
Already in the quagmire of the Ukraine war, Moscow will have fewer options to extricate its feet out of the muddy soil of the former Soviet territory.
Russia's once mighty military force that valiantly fought and defeated Hitler's Nazi Germany seems to have lost its finesse. Even after two months it could not gain much in Ukraine, rather if the Western intelligence reports are anything to go by, it has suffered heavy casualties. Russia's military hardware is now proven to be no match for the Western weapons which have poured into Kiev in huge numbers.
So with its weak military power and the prospect of being encircled by Nato, a diplomatic retreat is what Putin's prospect looks like.
On the question of neutrality
Several European nations, like Switzerland, Austria and Ireland, have codified the concept of "neutrality" into their legal systems and usually consider themselves to be neutral.
But the sun seems to have set on neutrality and, since the onset of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, neutrality seems to take up different forms for different people.
Switzerland is known, almost infamously, as one of the most neutral countries in Europe.
However, after aligning itself with the European Union in supporting sanctions on Russia, its government has been making great efforts in recent weeks to clarify its idea of neutrality.
The Swiss government had previously requested that its military equipment not be sent over to Ukraine from Germany. Some Swiss analysts and experts are contemplating tighter ties with the alliance, but not direct membership.
Moreover, Switzerland is geographically located a great distance away from Russia, making it far less vulnerable to Russian influence than the Nordic nations. "Our country cannot be a free rider when it comes to European security," said Damien Cottier, a liberal member of the Swiss parliament.
Others in the region have spoken up too. Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer has maintained a delicate stance since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began. He said that the nation would not modify its security position, but that military neutrality does not always entail moral neutrality, and that Austria firmly opposes Russia's activities in Ukraine.
Ireland's neutrality, for a very long time, had been a murky subject. At the beginning of the war, Ireland's Prime Minister, Michael Martin, said, "We're not politically neutral, but we're military neutral."
The conflict in Ukraine has reignited the discussion on the relevance of Ireland's neutrality. In reprisal for the attack, Ireland has sanctioned Russia and provided non-lethal assistance to Ukraine.
In the meantime, in an upcoming vote in June, Denmark – a Nato ally – will determine whether or not the country will scrap its long-standing stance of declining to participate in the defence projects of the EU.
Under the same breath, Denmark also recognises the need of integrating itself more deeply into the Western framework of mutual security guarantees. This is, yet again, another clear illustration of how geopolitical alliances in Europe are shifting as a direct result of Russia's aggression in Ukraine.
More firepower and gusto: What the Nato expansion brings to the table
Tectonic paradigm shifts are afoot in the West.
Ironically, Russia's invasion of Ukraine - meant to thwart Nato expansion as Russia voraciously explained time and again - is proving to do the opposite.
After a brief internal dilemma, Finland is on the verge of applying to become a member of Nato, and Sweden will almost certainly follow suit.
And all of these developments come at a time when Russia poses a grave new threat. Defence budgets are growing across Europe, particularly in Germany; and allies are pouring arms into Ukraine.
If Finland were to become a member of the alliance, the length of its border with Russia would be increased by 1,300 kilometres (830 miles), bringing the total to 2,400 kilometres.
According to Finland, it has already reached the recommended level of expenditure on defence by Nato, which is 2% of gross domestic product. Sweden is also increasing its military spending, and the country anticipates reaching the goal by the year 2028.
And as cherries on top, both Finland and Sweden's military are already undergoing a process of modernization and making investments in new pieces of equipment.
According to a study published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute last month, global military spending has officially surpassed $2 trillion for the first time in history as Europe continues to strengthen its defences.
Member nations of the EU have announced significant increases in their military spending in the next years totaling approximately $208 billion. The conflict in Ukraine has, however, brought to light years of underspending, inefficiencies and weaknesses in Europe's defence and military capacities.
Germany, for example, in a "turning point" speech by Chancellor Scholz, promised to increase its defence speanign to 2%, aligning Nato demands. At the same time, the country pledged to gear up its military industry by spending $100 billion.
In addition to that, according to a draft seen by Bloomberg, the EU is also working on new financial mechanisms to support military expenditure as part of a revised defence policy after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Termed as "Defend-EU," this proposal would map, coordinate and incentivise collaborative research, purchase, and ownership of defence assets.
Not all rainbows and EU muscle power
The Russian government views the decision by Finland and Sweden to join Nato as a grave error that will have "far-reaching ramifications." Vladimir Putin, the strongman leader of Russia, did not mince his words. He recently warned Finland's president and said his decision to join Nato is a "mistake" since there are "no security risks."
As Stockholm follows Helsinki's steps in joining Nato, Russia also threatened to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on its European border when Nato bases materialise in Sweden and Finland.
The EU still has much to worry about. Russia's threats resonate far and wide in the region. Some members of Nato are concerned that the Russians may station nuclear weapons or more hypersonic missiles in the exclave of Kaliningrad, which is situated on the other side of the Baltic Sea from Nato allies Poland and Lithuania.
Meanwhile, Turkey is laying out its demands to pursue its national interests. In his review of the Nato membership bids, Turkish President Erdogan accused both nations of harbouring "terrorist organisations." He said, "We do not have a positive opinion, Scandinavian countries are like a guesthouse for terror organisations."
Turkey's dissent is critical due to the fact that all 30 members of Nato must approve any new member's admission to the bloc. However, Nato and the United States stated on Sunday that they were certain Turkey would not prevent Finland and Sweden from joining the Western military alliance.
What the future holds is still anyone's guess. But one thing is clear, because of Putin's invasion, Nato is once again in the spotlight. First time in years, its function has a purpose. Vladimir Putin seems to have, single-handedly, restored the bloc's international standing and gave it a greater credibility.
Was Vladimir Putin short-sighted afterall? Did his efforts to thwart Nato ricochet only to revive the alliance? Is a diplomatic retreat for Putin the only way out of this mess?
Time will tell, possibly sooner than later.