NATO Invites Sweden and Finland to Join in Midst of Russia-Ukraine War

NATO’s leadership formally invited Sweden and Finland to become members of the military bloc on Wednesday after Turkey’s president signaled that he wouldn’t block their bids.

“Today we have decided to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO, and agreed to sign Accession Protocols,” NATO said in a declaration following meetings in Madrid, Spain. “The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will not block the two nations from joining the alliance if they meet his demands. Earlier this year, both Sweden and Finland announced their intentions to join NATO after Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

All 30 NATO members will have to sign off on allowing Finland and Sweden to join. Both countries are European Union members and they likely meet most—if not all—of NATO’s requirements to enter the alliance.

Finland shares a lengthy land border with western Russia, and Sweden shares a maritime border with Russia. For years, the two Nordic nations have resisted joining the bloc even during periods of Soviet aggression. Norway, meanwhile, has been part of NATO since 1949 and is considered a co-founder of the alliance.

Ratification in allied parliaments is likely to take up to a year, but once it is done, Finland and Sweden will be covered by NATO’s Article 5 collective defense clause, putting them under the United States’ protective nuclear umbrella.

“That always takes some time. But I [also] expect that to go rather quickly,” Stoltenberg remarked Wednesday, noting that the allies are “ready” to have the ratification done as soon as possible. “We will make sure we are able to protect all allies, including Finland and Sweden,” Stoltenberg also said.

Turkey’s Role

On Tuesday, Erdogan told reporters that he had spoken with President Joe Biden over the phone before leaving for Madrid, Spain, saying that Finland’s and Sweden’s applications will be considered.

“The PKK will be on our agenda in my bilateral meetings,” he said, referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a Marxist group that has been deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and a host of other countries.

The move, meanwhile, is sure to irk Russia even further. Russian President Vladimir Putin has long said that NATO is not merely defensive in nature and said the alliance has been attempting to expand eastward since the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Russian media this week that Sweden and Finland joining NATO will force Moscow to place more weapons along its border, including nuclear systems.

“In the event of such an expansion of NATO, the length of its land borders with Russia will more than double,” Medvedev  said, adding that “it’s not the best prospect for them to have our Iskanders, hypersonic missiles, warships with nuclear weapons on their doorstep.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times