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Finland and Sweden Apply for NATO Membership

Finland's Ambassador to NATO Klaus Korhonen, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Sweden's Ambassador to NATO Axel Wernhoff attend a ceremony to mark Sweden's and Finland's application for membership in Brussels, Belgium, May 18, 2022.

On May 18, the Governments of Finland and Sweden applied for membership to the NATO defensive alliance.

Finland and Sweden Apply for NATO Membership
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On May 18, the Governments of Finland and Sweden applied for membership to the NATO defensive alliance. The countries’ applications are a direct result of the Putin regime’s unprovoked and full-scale invasion of its neighbor, Ukraine, as both of these formerly militarily non-aligned countries have come to the conclusion the security they will gain far outweighs the risk of antagonizing Russia’s leadership.

President Joe Biden welcomed the two countries’ decision. "Finland and Sweden make NATO stronger," Biden said. "And a strong, united NATO is the foundation of America's security."

Although Finland was colonized by Imperial Russia and then fought two wars, as an independent nation, against the Soviet Union in the 20th century -- one from 1939-40 and the other from 1941-1944 – in the post-World War II period, Helsinki has retained close economic ties with Moscow and has remained militarily neutral. Sweden has had a history of military non-alignment for two centuries. Although both Finland and Sweden have deepened their cooperation with NATO in recent years, in the past, neither the countries’ political leaders nor the majority of their citizens showed interest in becoming NATO members. Now, that has changed.

One of the terrible ironies emerging from the Kremlin’s brutal war of choice against Ukraine, is that Vladimir Putin is precipitating the very thing he claimed he feared and wanted to prevent: the expansion of NATO. The inclusion of Finland and Sweden will bolster the security of the three Baltic countries that presently form NATO’s north-eastern flank and
help neutralize the Russian Federation’s recent aggressive expansion from the Kola Peninsula into the Arctic region.

In the face of Putin’s aggression, the NATO Alliance – defensive and peace-seeking from the start -- remains strong, united, and a beacon to nations determined to protect their sovereignty and their people.

“Having two new NATO members in the high north will enhance the security of our alliances and deepen our security cooperation across the board,” said President Biden. “Today there is no question NATO is relevant, that it’s effective and that it’s more needed now than ever."