Finland and Sweden are studying asking to enter the Atlantic Alliance next June, given the threat that Russia poses to both countries. The British newspaper ‘The Times’ reports that the foreign ministers of the Nordic nations met last week with their NATO counterparts. At the meeting, representatives of the governments of Helsinki and Stockholm called the Kremlin’s decision a “great strategic mistake” to invade Ukraine and that the historic decision to consider joining the great military alliance is a “consequence” of the war in the former Soviet republic.
Moscow’s reaction was swift. “We have repeatedly said that the Atlantic Alliance itself is more of a tool for confrontation. It is not an alliance that guarantees peace and stabilityand its further enlargement, of course, will not bring additional security to the European continent,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov said.
The Finnish Prime Minister, the Social Democrat Sanna Marin, has indicated that the internal debate within her party and Parliament will be “completed by the end of June”, coinciding with the NATO summit to be held in Madrid. This Thursday, the Finnish government plans to publish a “white paper” on the country’s security and the consequences of the recent actions of its Russian neighbor.
One of the key points for Finland is to obtain security guarantees from NATO to the period between the application for membership and the ratification of all 30 allied countries, when it would not yet be covered by the collective defense clause (article 5 of the Alliance). Last week, Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO members would be willing to provide such guarantees, saying that if Finland decides to join, “they will find a way to deal with this issue.”
Like its neighbor Sweden, Finland got clear reassurances from Stoltenberg that the door was open and garnered widespread support, from the US to Germany to France and the UK. The change in Finnish public opinion has been dramatic: polls now suggest that 60% of Finns are in favor of membership, twice as many as before the Ukraine war.
Another key point is what Sweden will do. For Finland, the ideal would be that both Nordic countries make a common front and apply for admission at the same time.
The Swedish Social Democratic Party has historically opposed joining NATO and at its last congress confirmed a motion to this effect, although this Monday the Government announced the opening of an internal debate on the matter. The Swedish prime minister and head of the government party, Magdalena Andersson, has stated that she is willing to change her strategy and the possibility of joining, five months before elections where this issue will be a central issue.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.