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Finland and Sweden Apply for NATO Membership

By Josh Sidebotham

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg revealed Wednesday that Finland and Sweden had applied for membership in the NATO alliance. “I warmly welcome the requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest partners,” Stoltenberg stated after receiving application letters from ambassadors of the Nordic countries. Sweden enjoyed 200 years of neutrality before it and Finland joined the European Union in 1992 and NATO’s  Partnership for Peace program in 1994; however, both remained militarily nonaligned. Joining  NATO in full would allow the nations to benefit from the alliance’s Article 5, which states that an attack on any NATO nation is an attack on the rest as well.  

There is no formal process for gaining NATO membership; it is a varying process usually taking eight to twelve months; however, NATO wishes to move quickly considering the threat from Russia hanging over the nations’ heads. Thirty member nations must decide on the applications, a process expected to take two weeks, and if talks go well, they could become members in only a few months. Canada has said it expects to ratify Finnish and Swedish accession within a few days. Estonian Prime Minster Kaja Kallas expressed his support for a rapid accession process in a tweet.  

 Public opinion in Finland and Sweden has swayed heavily in favor of NATO  membership after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin has repeatedly justified its actions in Ukraine, claiming that it is trying to push the alliance away from its borders. This strategy has seemingly backfired, having pressured neighboring nations to attempt joining NATO.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that NATO cease expanding closer to Russian 

borders, and Russia has warned it could respond with the further escalation of tensions in  Europe. The United States and Britain, and other ally nations have signaled that they would support Finland and Sweden in this endeavor and the face of Russian aggression.  

“This day is a critical moment for our security,” Stoltenberg said. “All allies agree on the importance of NATO enlargement. We all agree that we must stand together, and we all agree  that this is a historic moment we must seize.” 

Sources:

NATO chief hails ‘historic moment’ as Finland, Sweden apply | AP News 

Finland and Sweden formally submit NATO membership applications : NPR 

Finland and Sweden officially apply to join NATO despite Russia’s warnings – CBS News

After 200 Years of Neutrality, Sweden Weighs Joining NATO – The New York Times

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