Ukraine: Sweden and Finland population swings towards NATO
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Finland and Sweden are on the cusp of ending their neutrality and joining NATO, a move that would be driven by continued threats from Russian officials hoping to discourage opposition. While it would ensure the countries’ safety, it could cause further trouble for western militaries as experts believe that welcoming new allies will backfire on NATO and potentially edge the conflict towards all-out war.
Experts also suggest that membership could lead Russia to two potential responses: building its military further or delivering a preemptive strike on potential new NATO countries.
Last week, Moscow said it would prepare nuclear weapons in the Baltics alongside its ground and air forces should they join the alliance.
Russian security council member and former president Dmitry Medvedev said the country would have to “reinforce” borders around Finland and Sweden.
He added that any talk of “nuclear-free status for the Baltic” would end in this instance.
Mr Medvedev said while his country has “not taken such measures and was not going to,” it would have to move if “our hand is forced”.
The leaders of both Finland and Sweden announced at a joint press conference earlier this month that plans to join the alliance were under consideration.
Finland has been bound to neutrality for decades, stemming from a pact with the Soviet Union but the invasion of Ukraine has forced it to reconsider its position.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin said she expected a decision on NATO membership to be made “within weeks”.
Sweden also has a long-standing tradition of neutrality but views its national security tied to its neighbour Finland.
Its Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, did not have a timeframe for joining but said there was “no point” in delaying the decision.
She said: “This is a very important time in history. The security landscape has completely changed.
“We have to analyse the situation to see what is best for Sweden’s security, for the Swedish people, in this new situation.”
Both Finland and Sweden are currently NATO partners meaning despite not being members they are still permitted to take part in training exercises and receive briefings.
Full membership would allow the nations to be protected by Article 5, which states an attack on one NATO country is an attack on every member.
Membership must be approved by all 30 NATO states and acceptance could take four months to a year.
So what do YOU think? Should the UK encourage Sweden and Finland to join NATO? Vote in our poll and join the debate in the comment section below.
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