Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO, welcomes membership applications from Sweden and Finland. According to Reuters:
NATO would quickly welcome Finland and Sweden into its ranks with open arms if they decided to apply, the military alliance’s top civilian official said Wednesday [April 6th], as Russia’s war on Ukraine spurs public support in the two Nordic countries for membership.
CNN reports that the two Nordic countries could join NATO as soon as this summer. This expansion, the report explains, is “the exact opposite” of what Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to accomplish when he ordered his military to invade Ukraine.
A statement from the Russian government repeated Moscow’s long-standing opposition to further expansion of NATO. This, Russia says, “will not bring stability to the European continent.”
Support for NATO membership has increased in both Finland and Sweden as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine. On Monday, April 11th, a group of Finnish business organizations declared their support for the country’s move toward membership in political unity. According to Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen, the Finnish government will decide on a NATO membership application in the coming weeks. Prime Minister Sanna Marin points out that an application “must be handled carefully, but swiftly, effectively during the spring.”
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has similar ambitions, explaining that for constitutional reasons the Riksdag, the parliament in Stockholm, needs to approve a NATO membership by three-fourths majority.
Her own party, the social democrats, have revised their national security policy. After having opposed military alliances since the end of World War II, the social democrats now want to see Sweden join NATO. The Swedish parliament took a major step closer to this when recently the nationalist conservative Swedish democrats, the third largest party in the Riksdag, followed the social democrats and changed their stance on NATO membership.