In its most consequential expansion since the 1990s, NATO ambassadors signed accession protocols paving the way for Sweden and Finland to join the North Atlantic military coalition. This decision comes in direct response to Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine which, ironically, was partially motivated by the threat of an increased NATO presence around the agressor nation.
Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance’s Secretary General said that this is a “truly an historic moment for Finland, for Sweden and for NATO.” While each allied government’s legislators must still ratify the protocol to finalize and officiate the two countries’ membership, Stoltenberg still said with confidence that “with 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger.”
Finland, Sweden sign protocol to join NATO but still need ratification https://t.co/VJ2QxY6N6u pic.twitter.com/tbaSr9IzKT
— Reuters (@Reuters) July 5, 2022
The two Nordic countries joining NATO demonstrates not only a change in the nations’ policies on global security and involvement, but a new defense climate on the European continent. Both nations have remained fairly neutral regarding Russia, its policies, and its presence on the global stage, but have both become decisively more pointed in their stance following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of their neighbor and former territory.
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Stoltenberg said, “Finland and Sweden will make strong and important contributions to our Alliance. Our forces are interoperable. They have trained, exercised, and served together for many years.”
The Secretary Generag also points out that this marks the “fastest accession process in NATO’s history so far,” with both countries requesting to join as recently as May of this year.
Before Finland and Sweden can become official members, the accession agreement must be ratified by the governments of NATO’s current members. Stoltenberg remains confident however that this would be concluded in “months.”
Ministers of Foreign Affairs for both Finland and Sweden said that they have high hopes for a quick ratification of their respective accession protocols.
Confident, Stoltenberg said, “We will be even stronger and our people will be even safer as we face the biggest security crisis in decades.”