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Sweden and Finland apply to join NATO as Putin warns of “consequences”

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Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2022. 3:12 pm CST.

Photo Credit: BBC

By Aaron Humes: Over strong objections from Russia, the BBC says neighbouring Scandinavian countries Sweden and Finland today confirmed they will apply to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia sees NATO as a security threat and warned both countries of “consequences.” President Vladimir Putin has previously mentioned Ukraine’s intention to join the alliance as one of the reasons for the invasion of its neighbour.

Sweden has been neutral and stayed out of military alliances for more than two centuries, while Finland has avoided NATO to avoid antagonizing Russia, with whom it shares an 810-mile border.

Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party said it would “work toward” NATO membership as “best for Sweden’s and the Swedish people’s security,” something supported by the public and most opposition parties. But Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and her party are opposed to stationing nuclear weapons or hosting NATO bases. She also said Sweden would be left in a “vulnerable position” if it was the only country in the Baltic region that was not a NATO member.

Finland’s President, Sauli Niinistö, said he previously spoke to Putin about the decision, saying he wanted to “say it straight”.

The decision comes as foreign ministers of NATO countries, who are meeting in Berlin, have pledged to provide security guarantees for both Finland and Sweden while their bids to join NATO are being ratified by all member states – a process that can take up to a year.

A potential objection may be raised by Turkey, which accuses both Nordic countries of having given support to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been waging an armed struggle against the Turkish government for decades. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Sweden and Finland must stop supporting terrorists in their countries, provide clear security guarantees and lift export bans on Turkey. But he added that Turkey was not threatening anybody or seeking leverage.

NATO, a Western military alliance, was founded in 1949 to counter the threat from the former Soviet Union.

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