Finland and Sweden ask to join NATO amid Russian invasion of Ukraine

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join the NATO alliance at Allied Headquarters on Wednesday, a decision spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and setting in motion a membership process that should only take a few weeks.

Both Sweden and Finland were neutral throughout the Cold War, and their decision to join NATO is one of the most significant shifts in the European security architecture in decades, reflecting a sea change in public opinion in the Nordic region since the February 24 Russian invasion.

“This is a historic moment, which we must seize,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a short ceremony in which the Swedish and Finnish ambassadors to the alliance handed over their application letters, each in a white folder embossed with their national flag. .

“I warmly welcome Finland’s and Sweden’s requests to join NATO. You are our closest partners, and your NATO membership will strengthen our common security,” Stoltenberg said. The alliance considers that the membership of Finland and Sweden would strengthen it enormously in the Baltic Sea.

Ratification by the 30 allied parliaments could take up to a year, diplomats say.

Turkey surprised its allies in recent days by saying it had reservations about Finland and Sweden joining.

Stoltenberg said Wednesday he believed the issues could be resolved.

“We are determined to resolve all issues and reach rapid conclusions,” Stoltenberg said, noting strong support from all other allies.

(Reporting by Robin Emmott, Marine Strauss)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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