According to reports Monday, a joint application by Sweden and Finland could be made to NATO to end their long-standing policy of neutrality. This could happen in just a few weeks.
These applications could trigger a strong reaction from Russia. President Vladimir Putin justified his decision not to invade Ukraine to stop the West’s military alliance expanding in the region.
The war has led to a shift in political opinions in Sweden and Finland towards NATO. These two countries have always cooperated but never joined formal NATO.
The Finnish President Sauli Ninisto will make a previously scheduled visit to Stockholm, May 17-18 to approve the joint application.
The Finnish newspaper Iltalehti and Sweden’s Expressen both reported Monday that the two countries are poised to make the joint bid sometime that week.
Finland shares an 830-mile border to Russia with its neighbor Finland. Historically, Finland has been wary of security policies that could upset the Kremlin. Officials from Finland say that they would prefer to join NATO with Sweden.
A poll conducted in Sweden recently revealed that a majority now supports NATO membership.
According to the Expressen, the Swedish government has spoken with U.S. and British officials in regards to applying for asylum and security assurances during the uncertain transition.
Ann Linde, Swedish Foreign Secretary, stated last week that a major security review which was due to be completed by May 31 will now be presented on May 13.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated earlier this month that the application was an option for Stockholm and Helsinki, but it was widely implied that it would be accepted.