Sweden and Finland take steps to join NATO | NATO

Sweden’s ruling party has begun debating whether the country should join NATO and neighboring countries Finland It expects a decision within weeks, as Moscow has warned that Nordic accession “will not bring stability” to Europe.

Both countries are officially militarily unaligned, but public support for NATO membership has nearly doubled since the Russian invasion. Ukraineto about 50% in Sweden and 60% in Finland, multiple polls indicate.

Sweden’s centre-left Social Democrats, led by Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, said their “security review” was more than just joining the 30-nation coalition, adding that the party could decide to advance even without members’ support.

Emphasizing at the outbreak of the war that nonalignment “served Sweden’s interests well”, Andersen said she was “ready to discuss” policy in light of Moscow’s aggression, and in late March said she “did not rule out” accession. NATO.

“when Russia “Invading Ukraine, Sweden’s security situation has fundamentally changed,” the party said in a statement on Monday. SPD general secretary Tobias Bodin said the security review would be complete “before the summer”.

The question is expected to be a major issue in the parliamentary elections scheduled for September 11, where center-right opposition parties have already said they would support NATO’s request, and far-right Swedish Democrats are also open to the idea.

Finland, which shares a 1,340-kilometre (830-mile) border with Russia and, like Sweden, a NATO partner after abandoning its strict neutral stance at the end of the Cold War, is expected to determine its decision on the alliance before midsummer. .

Alexander Staub, the former prime minister of Finland, told AFP it was a “imposed consequence” that Helsinki would apply to join NATO, possibly in time for the NATO summit in June in Madrid.

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A government-mandated national security review is due to be presented to parliament next week to help Finnish parliamentarians decide on the issue ahead of the vote, with one recent poll indicating that only six of the country’s 200 lawmakers were against.

“We will have very careful discussions, but we will not take any more time than we have to,” the country’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, said last week. “I think we’ll finish the discussion before midsummer,” she said.

Both countries received general assurances from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that their requests would be welcome, as well as expressions of support from many members including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Turkey.

But the move would almost certainly be seen as a provocation by the Kremlin, whose spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Monday that the alliance was a “confrontation-oriented tool” and that their possible accession “would not bring stability to the European continent”.

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