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Report: Sweden and Finland indicate willingness to join NATO

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused the two countries to reevaluate their strict neutrality policies

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Flags flutter in the wind outside NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Flags flutter in the wind outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 7, 2022. The violence of the Russian invasion has spooked historically neutral countries like Sweden and Finland, which now see a surge in support for joining NATO.

Olivier Matthys, Associated Press

Leaders from Sweden and Finland have indicated that they could apply to join NATO in mid-May, according to reports from Finnish and Swedish news outlets.

When will the alliance take place? If the countries’ decisions to join NATO are finalized, they will submit membership applications on the same day, although no fixed day has been decided, according to Iltalehti, a Finnish news outlet.

  • The countries’ leaders plan to meet the week of May 16, and will then publicly announce their decision, according to Reuters.

Scandinavia reexamines their neutrality policy: The Scandinavian countries have had a long track record of military neutrality, according to BBC News, but “‘everything had changed’ when Russia attacked Ukraine,” said Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin. She told reporters that Helsinki must be “prepared for all kinds of actions from Russia.”

  • Finland shares 830 miles of border with Russia. If the country were to join NATO, the decision would result in “increased tensions on the border between Finland and Russia,” BBC reported.

De facto NATO members: During the application process, the United States and Britain have promised Sweden increased military presence and protection, and “strong political support from NATO countries,” according to Reuters.

Support for NATO increases: The BBC states that Russia sees NATO as a threat, and invaded Ukraine in an attempt to prevent the country from joining the alliance.

  • Although Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Ukraine won’t be joining NATO any time soon, per The New York Times, the invasion has changed the public outlook on the alliance within other countries.
  • Opinion polls in Finland state that since Russia’s invasion, support for joining NATO has increased from 28% in February to 68% last month, according to the BBC.