Finland and Sweden are ready to hold rapid discussions on NATO membership

  • Finland and Sweden signaled that they could move to join NATO in the near future, blaming Russia’s war on Ukraine.
  • This would mark a historic shift in politics for both countries.
  • It would also anger Russia, which has threatened both “serious military and political” retaliation.

Finland and Sweden on Wednesday offered the most concrete signs to date that they will pursue NATO membership in the near future, despite Russia threatening both “serious military and political” retaliation if they join the alliance.

At a joint press conference with his Swedish counterpart in Stockholm, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said: “Everything changed when Russia invaded Ukraine.”

The thinking of people in Finland and Sweden – countries in Northern Europe that have long been militarily independent – changed and was “shaped very dramatically by Russia’s actions,” Marin said, adding: “This is very clear and it caused a need for a trial in Finland to have a discussion about our own security choices. “

“I will not provide any kind of schedule for when we make our decisions, but I think it will happen pretty quickly. Within weeks, not within months,” Marin said.

Similarly, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said there was “no point” in delaying an analysis that Sweden might join NATO.

“This is a very important time in history. There is a before and after February 24. The security landscape has completely changed,” Andersson said, adding: “In this situation, we need to really think through what is best. for Sweden and our security and our peace in this new situation. “

The Finnish government on Wednesday issued a security assessment to be discussed by lawmakers. The report concluded that the addition of Finland and Sweden to NATO would increase regional security. Finland shares a long border with Russia, and like Ukraine, it would probably be left to fight a Russian attack without NATO’s full force.

Andersson said Sweden was involved in a similar process regarding discussions on joining NATO, with the Swedish government set to release a security analysis report by the end of May.

“We have to analyze the situation to see what is best for Sweden’s security for the Swedish people in this new situation. And you must not rush into it, you must take it very seriously,” Andersson said. , that there were pros and cons. to become a member of NATO.

Becoming a member of NATO will extend the protection of the Alliance’s 30 members to Finland and Sweden. NATO operates on the principle of collective defense, considering an attack on one member to be an attack on all, as enshrined in Article 5 of its founding treaty. But such measures would also infuriate the Kremlin, while Finland and Sweden would have to defend other NATO members in the event of an attack.

If the two Nordic countries became part of NATO, it would mark a historic change in policy for both.

During the Cold War, Sweden and Finland remained neutral. The Finns and Russians have previously gone to war, also during World War II. Finland, which shares an 830-mile border with Russia, sought to avoid similar conflicts in the decades after the war by remaining militarily non-aligned and giving Moscow overall influence, a narrow-minded state experts labeled “Finnishization.” And Sweden has not been involved in a war for 200 years.

Both countries became NATO partner countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but until recently showed no desire to pursue full membership. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has catalyzed a rapid shift in its stance on the issue, as one of many signs that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war there has backfired.

Putin has been complaining for years about NATO’s expansion to the east after the Cold War, and he has highlighted these problems in an attempt to justify his full-scale attack on Ukraine.

Moscow has demanded that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO. Although the alliance has rejected this claim, Ukraine has in negotiations with Russia offered to assume neutral status if it means an end to the war. But Putin said Tuesday that the talks had hit a “dead end,” according to the New York Times, adding that Russia’s “military operation will continue until it is completed.”

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