Both Sweden and Finland’s governments have announced they plan to join NATO despite Russia warning both countries against the move.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said she will ask for the support of the Stockholm parliament today in order to submit her country’s candidacy to NATO.
On the same day, the Finnish government announced that the Nordic country is intending to apply for NATO membership, paving the way for the expansion of the 30-member Western military alliance.
The announcement in Sweden came after the ruling Social Democratic Party withdrew its opposition to joining the military alliance.
“Tomorrow, I will make sure that there is widespread support in the Riksdag for a NATO candidacy, and then we will be able to make a decision at the government level,” Andersson told a news conference on Sunday.
The NATO candidacy is already enjoying support in the Swedish parliament.
A joint NATRO candidacy with Finland is “the best thing” for Sweden and its security, the Swedish head of government added.
The Russian military invasion of Ukraine has reopened the debate in Sweden and Finland over their military status. The two countries have been associated with the North Atlantic Alliance since the mid-1990s through the ‘Partnership for Peace’ program.
Although Russia has threatened a response if Sweden and Finland join NATO, Russian forces are currently bogged down in Ukraine, limiting the country’s ability to respond.
Although about 70 percent of Finns support joining NATO, according to a poll conducted by Finnish broadcaster Yle, opinions are more split in Sweden, with only about half of people supporting Sweden ending its 200 years of military non-alignment.
At a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin on Sunday, both NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed confidence that a consensus would be reached on their candidacies.