Both Scandinavian countries have been historically neutral, and their decision to join NATO is one of the most significant changes in Europe’s security in decades.
“This is a historic moment that we must seize,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after the Swedish and Finnish ambassadors handed in their application letters.
“I warmly welcome the requests of Finland and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest partners, and your membership in NATO will enhance our common security. ”
Applications are now launching an accession process that is expected to take just a few weeks.
It also significantly reflects the sharp shift in public opinion regarding Putin’s invasion and the frequent nuclear threats emanating from Moscow.
Sweden has a sea border with Russia, and Finland has a land border with an enemy state of 810 miles (1300 km).
NATO believes that their accession will significantly strengthen it in the Baltic Sea, but ratification of all 30 Allied parliaments could take up to a year.
Their applications may also be thwarted because of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has vowed to use his veto to block them.
Erdogan is angry at the two countries for welcoming Kurdish refugees who have ties to pro-independence groups.
He even said they should not send diplomats to try to change their minds, warning that NATO would become an “incubator” for terrorists if they joined.
“None of these countries has a clear open attitude towards terrorist organizations,” he said. “How can we trust them?”
However, Stoltenberg said today that he thinks the problems can be solved.
“We are determined to work out all the issues and come to quick conclusions,” he said, noting strong support from all other allies.
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