Both Finland and Sweden are making moves to join NATO, which is a major shift from their non-alignment stances throughout modern history.
The move is coming largely because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has the two Nordic nations nervous about being the only countries in the Baltic region outside of the NATO alliance. For its part, Russia has said that the two countries joining NATO would be a mistake, and the Russian foreign ministry has indicated that there would be retaliation for the move.
Both countries are expected to file a joint application for NATO as soon as the decisions are approved by their respective parliaments. Usually, joining NATO can be a lengthy process, but AP News reported that NATO officials said the process could be completed “in a couple of weeks” under current circumstances.
“Taking a stance for NATO membership means that we are ready to abandon a security policy line that Sweden has kept, in various forms, for 200 years,” said Sweden’s Prime Minister and Chair of Social Democrats Magdalena Andersson. “For us Social Democrats it is clear that military non-alignment has served Sweden well, but our conclusion is that it won’t serve us as well in the future.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said their entry to NATO “would be a historic moment” and it would “increase our shared security, demonstrate that NATO’s doors are open and that aggression does not pay.”
“Putin stressed that the end of the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake since there is no threat to Finland’s security,” Russia’s Kremlin said in a statement on Saturday, after cutting off the electricity supply to the country. “Such a change in the country’s political orientation can have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations developed over years in a spirit of good neighborliness and cooperation between partners.”