NATO to grant Sweden, Finland membership soon after they apply: sources – National

NATO allies expect Finland and Sweden to sign up to join the alliance in the coming days and to grant membership soon, five diplomats and officials said, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forces sparked a radical rethink of the European Union. meant safety.

During the one-year ratification of their membership, the Allies would increase troop presence in the Scandinavian region, conduct more military exercises and naval patrols in the Baltic and possibly rotate US and British troops through Finland and Sweden, they said.

Finland and Sweden would not benefit from NATO’s collective defense clause – that an attack on one ally is an attack on all – until the parliaments of all 30 member states have ratified the decision.

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In the wider Nordic region, Norway, Denmark and the three Baltic states are already NATO members.

President Sauli Niinisto of Finland, which shares a 1,300 km (810 mi) border with Russia, will make his position known on Thursday, a move that will be considered official confirmation of Helsinki’s decision to join.

Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats are expected to decide on Sunday whether they want to undo decades of opposition to NATO membership. The Swedish parliament is holding a parallel all-party review of security policy, which will be reported on Friday.

“Yes and yes: they will apply and they will join,” a senior diplomat said, on condition of anonymity, of how the two Scandinavian countries will act.

Click to play video: 'Russia-Ukraine conflict: NATO chief says alliance works to prevent further escalation'

Russia-Ukraine conflict: NATO chief says alliance works to prevent further escalation

Russia-Ukraine conflict: NATO chief says alliance works to prevent further escalation – March 17, 2022

“If not now, when?” said a second diplomat, citing not only Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, but also the fact that Moscow had to dump so many troops into its southern neighbor as part of its “special operation” to disarm it.

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A third NATO diplomat agreed: “It is a blessed moment. Russia is not in a position to attack (the Nordic nations).”

However, envoys said Moscow could announce it would bring missiles and other weapons and armor closer to the border with Finland.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Russia’s possible response on Wednesday.

“Of course we are observing everything related to actions that are able to somehow change the configuration of the alliance near our borders in the most attentive way,” he said. “This is a subject for very, very careful analysis. We can’t say more about it for now.”

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who visited Sweden and Finland on Wednesday, said he had signed new deals with both countries to strengthen European security, and expressed support for their armed forces if they were attacked. Read the full story

Johnson also reiterated that NATO is a defensive alliance that does not threaten other countries.

Russia strongly disagrees and sees NATO enlargement as a direct threat to its own security. It has cited the issue as a reason for its actions in Ukraine, which also has ambitions to one day join the alliance.

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Sweden recently reassured the US that Washington would bolster its security in the event of Russian retaliation. The US mission to NATO declined to comment directly.

“We are confident we can find ways to address any country’s concerns about the time span between applying for NATO membership and their potential Alliance membership,” said Jeff Adler, spokesperson for the US Mission to NATO .

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Allied diplomats and officials said Sweden and Finland’s membership applications are sure to be approved either at or before a planned NATO summit in Madrid on June 28-30.

“There is no exact timeline. We will not wait for the Madrid summit if it can be approved sooner,” said a NATO official.

Some diplomats expected Finland and Sweden to apply for membership a few weeks before the Madrid summit to allow for approval at the summit, which will be attended by all Allied leaders, including US President Joe Biden.

That would be full of symbolism for NATO. It was at an Allied summit in Madrid in 1997 that Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic were invited to participate in the first of several waves of NATO’s eastern expansion.

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(Edited by Gareth Jones)

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