Turkey officially approved Sweden’s bid to join the NATO military alliance after the Scandinavian country applied to join shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

Both Finland and Sweden applied at the same time, changing strategy that had lasted decades of military nonalignment.

Here are some of the common questions about NATO and what’s going on with the military alliance now.

What is NATO?

According to the official NATO website, “NATO’s purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.”

The alliance was formed in 1949 and “commits the Allies to democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, as well as to peaceful resolution of disputes,” per NATO.

It started out with a dozen countries, and now includes 31 member countries, with the addition of Finland in April.

What advantages are gained with NATO?

One of the major advantages countries receive by being part of NATO is being protected by Article Five, which is “the alliance’s mutual defense clause that ensures member countries mutual protections,” Time Magazine reported.

If a non-NATO country invades a member-country of NATO, the article is enacted for the other member-countries to join up and help actively defend the invaded country.

NATO has been a “long source of tension between the West and Russia,” according to The Washington Post.

Why did Sweden’s bid to join NATO take so long to get approved?

To join NATO, there must be unanimous approval for that country from all the other member-countries. Turkey and Hungary were the two holdouts in approving Sweden’s bid.

Turkey agreed to submit approval on Monday, “in return for deeper cooperation on security issues and a promise from Sweden to revive Turkey’s quest for EU membership,” The Associated Press reported.

The country had held out approval because Erdogan believed that Sweden was “too lenient toward elements of the Turkish and Kurdish diasporas that Turkey views as security threats,” per AP News.

Sweden has working to find an agreement to address Turkey’s concerns. On Monday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said, “As part of that process, Sweden has amended its constitution, changed its laws, significantly expanded its counter-terrorism cooperation against the PKK, and resumed arms exports to Turkey,” per CNN.

Hungary will also likely soon sign off on Sweden’s bid to join. The European country has been holding back approval of Sweden because it claimed that Sweden was telling “outright lies” surrounding Hungary’s democratic voting processes, the Deseret News reported.

What will Sweden bring to NATO?

Each country brings its own unique talents and resources to the alliance, and Sweden is no exception. According to the Post, the location and geographic coverage alone will bring an advantage to NATO. Sweden will bring expanded land, sea and air capabilities, and it also “has a strong navy, which would strengthen NATO’s defenses in the Baltic Sea.”

“NATO’s main mission is keep Russia away from the Baltic states,” Christopher Skaluba, director of the Atlantic Council’s Transatlantic Security Initiative, told the Post.

Will Ukraine become part of NATO?

Ukraine has been pushing to become a part of the NATO alliance since before Russia invaded, but NATO has only said it will ratify its application once “allies agree and conditions are met. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pushed back against the uncertain timeline for its NATO application approval, saying, “Uncertainty is weakness,” per The New York Times.