Sweden and Finland have officially applied to NATO, marking a historic end to their long-standing military neutrality. The decision to join the alliance was made in an attempt to bolster security in light of Russia’s invasion on Ukraine, according to NPR.

What’s next? Both of the countries fit NATO criteria, and have been ensured a swift membership by NATO, but what will they have to do to secure that membership?

  • Since Finland and Sweden fit NATO criteria, and their membership offers benefits to the alliance, their membership process will be “relatively straightforward,” as reported by Al Jazeera. The only hurdle they will have to jump is receiving unanimous acceptance from all 30 NATO countries.
  • Deseret News reported that there has been some pushback from Turkey regarding Sweden’s membership. The president of Turkey has accused Sweden of having involvement with terrorists.
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  • “There have been some rumblings of discontent or even objections in Hungary and Turkey, but in the end, they will accept their membership of NATO,” Alistair Shepherd, a senior lecturer at Aberystwyth University, told Al Jazeera.
  • Once approved, the countries will have a series of meetings and sign treaties to agree to NATO obligations, per Al Jazeera.
  • How long the application process takes can vary depending on several factors, reports Al Jazeera, but NATO officials have stated that both applications will be “fast tracked.”
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Looking back: There is an urgency in this application, given that Finland shares a border with Russia. Russian officials have hinted at retaliating against the Scandinavian countries for joining the alliance.

  • The United States and the United Kingdom have offered increased protection to Finland and Sweden during the membership process, even though they aren’t technically members, in case Russia makes any moves towards retaliation.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin blames NATO for tension in Europe, and blames the organization largely for the invasion in Ukraine, per previous Deseret News reporting.
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