In response to Russia’s unprovoked, ruthless war against Ukraine, Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership May 18. It was a big step for the two countries and was not taken lightly.
Finland has been militarily non-aligned since the end of the Second World War. Sweden’s history of non-alignment goes back more than two centuries. Both countries’ stances reflected their citizens’ preferences. This viewpoint changed as a result of Russia’s February 24 full-scale invasion of Ukraine. By mid-May, an overwhelming majority of Finns and Swedes determined that, for their own safety, their two countries should join the NATO defensive Alliance.
After consulting together, NATO Allies welcomed the two Nordic countries’ applications for membership, agreeing with President Joe Biden’s statement that “Having two new NATO members in the High North will enhance the security of our alliances and deepen our security cooperation across the board.”
On June 29, NATO extended to Finland and Sweden formal invitations to join the Alliance and on July 5, NATO Ambassadors signed Accession Protocols for Finland and Sweden.
“This is truly an historic moment. For Finland, for Sweden, for NATO, and for our shared security,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
These documents must now be ratified according to each NATO Member State’s requirements, generally via legislative bodies. This process is underway, with Canada and Denmark being the first NATO Allies to ratify the protocols.
Sweden and Finland’s ascension to NATO membership enjoys strong bipartisan support in the United States Congress.
“The United States strongly supports their membership,” said President Joe Biden. “Finland and Sweden are strong democracies with highly capable militaries. Their membership will strengthen NATO’s collective security and benefit the entire Transatlantic Alliance. I look forward to working with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, our Allies, and with Congress to ensure that we can quickly welcome them into our Alliance,” said President Biden. “Our Alliance is stronger, more united, and more resolute than ever.”