NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that Finland and Sweden could soon become members of NATO. If they decide to join the 30-nation military organization, they will be embraced with open arms. Media speculation in both countries suggests that both may apply in mid-May.
He did not give an exact time frame but did say that the two can expect some security when Russia tries to intimidate them from the time their membership applications are made until formally joining.
Stoltenberg said he believes there are ways to bridge that interim period in a way that will be good enough. We will work for both Finland and Sweden. NATO's Collective Security Guarantee ensures that all member states come to the aid of an ally under attack. Stoltenberg said several NATO allies have now pledged at least $8 billion in military aid to Ukraine.
Before starting the war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that NATO expansion be stopped and that its troops be withdrawn from Russia's borders. So the prospect of neighbouring Finland and Sweden joining the Trans-Atlantic Alliance (NATO) is unlikely to be welcomed in Moscow.
Finland has a conflict-ridden history with Russia, with which it shares a border of about 1,340 kilometres (830 mi). Finland has participated in dozens of wars against its eastern neighbour over the centuries as part of the Swedish Empire, and as an independent nation fought two wars with the Soviet Union from 1939–40 and 1941–44. However, in the post-war period Finland has maintained practical political and economic ties with Moscow and remaining militarily non-aligned and acting as a neutral buffer between East and West.
Sweden has avoided military alliances with its neighbours for more than 200 years, choosing the path of peace after centuries of war. The two countries ended traditional neutrality in 1995 by joining the European Union and deepening cooperation with NATO. However, most of the people in both countries have so far been against full membership in the alliance.