Finland state

Sweden and Finland remain undecided on membership as troops train with NATO

April 30 (UPI) — The foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland have said their nations remain undecided about membership as their troops train with NATO.

Foreign Ministers Pekka Haavisto of Finland and Ann Linde of Sweden said at a press conference Friday that the countries would take the decision to join or not “in the same direction and in the same period of time”.

“We already have ongoing cooperation. Of course, if our security environment becomes more challenging, we can of course add bilateral planning, and that includes all areas of military cooperation,” Haavisto said.

Haavisto said Sweden is Finland’s “most important bilateral partner”, while Linde said “what Finland decides will affect a lot what Sweden decides”, while each country respects the independence of the other.

Linde said the Swedish parliament was preparing an analysis report on NATO membership which was due on May 13. Haavisto added that the process of joining NATO would take between four months and a year as 30 member states of the alliance ratify the agreement.

Finland and Sweden already have partnership agreements with NATO which started in 1994 but which offer no guarantee of security. The countries are considering whether to end official neutrality and fully join NATO despite threats from Moscow that this would lead to an aggressive Russian response.

This week, Finnish troops joined NATO forces in mine countermeasures training exercises in the Archipelago Sea, according to a Press release.

On Friday, Swedish troops began submarine training exercises with NATO forces in the Baltic Sea. It included training in anti-submarine warfare, which included fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter operations and defensive procedures in and out of port.

“Since Russia’s unprovoked and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine, NATO has further strengthened its deterrence and defense, on land, in the air and at sea,” the press release said.

“Finland and Sweden are NATO’s closest partners with years of experience training and operating alongside NATO allies.”