Sweden and Finland took another important step toward NATO membership on Tuesday. The 30 member states of NATO have signed an accession protocol for the two Nordic countries. It is now up to governments to ratify the protocols.
Both Sweden and Finland are used to working with NATO as partner countries. They attended NATO meetings and participated in military exercises. Both nations ended decades of neutrality by applying to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Last week, the Turkish government during a NATO summit meeting in Madrid has decided to lift its veto on the candidacy of the two countries. This followed assurances given to Ankara that Finland and Sweden would do more to fight terrorism.
“It’s a good day for Finland and Sweden, and a good day for NATO. With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger and our peoples will be even safer as we face the greatest security crisis in decades,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. .
“NATO’s door remains open to European democracies who are ready and willing to contribute to our common security,” he added. NATO has published a video on twitter which carried all of Stoltenberg’s opening remarks.
Signing the protocol means that Sweden and Finland can participate in NATO meetings and have access to alliance intelligence. They will not be fully protected by NATO’s Article 5 defense clause, which states that an attack on one ally is an attack on all, until ratification. It will probably take up to a year. However, the United States President Joe Biden in May promised that the United States would work with Finland and Sweden to ensure their security during the accession process.
Russia softens its tone
Stoltenberg reaffirmed that NATO will work to address any security concerns the two countries may have. “The security of Finland and Sweden is important for our alliance, including during the ratification process,” he said.
“Many allies have already made clear commitments to the security of Finland and Sweden, and NATO has increased its presence in the region, including with more exercises.”
Russia initially warned the two countries not to join NATO. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a few months ago that “the alliance remains a tool turned towards confrontation”. Peskov added that Russia would have to “rebalance the situation” with its own measures if Sweden and Finland joined the alliance.
In February Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, warned of “military and political consequences” if countries joined the bloc.
But faced with the realization that the two countries would indeed join the alliance, Moscow softened its tone somewhat. “With Sweden and Finland we don’t have the problems we have with Ukraine. They want to join NATO, go for it,” President Vladimir Putin said. Russian television.
“But they must understand that there was no threat before, whereas now, if military contingents and infrastructure are deployed there, we will have to respond in kind and create the same threats for the territories from which the threats against us are created,” he added.
NATO was created on April 4, 1949with three distinct missions: to deter Soviet expansionism, to prevent the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence, and to encourage European political integration.
In the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow demanded that NATO not expand further east. But Putin’s invasion had the opposite effect.
Steve Balestrieri is a national security columnist from 1945. He served as a non-commissioned officer and warrant officer in the U.S. Army Special Forces before injuries forced him into early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and other military news agencies, he covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 11 years. His work has been regularly featured in the Massachusetts Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers.