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Finland and Sweden confirm intentions to join NATO

The leaders of Finland and Sweden have announced that they back their countries in joining NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

SNS | New Delhi |

The leaders of Finland and Sweden have announced that they back their countries in joining NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The move changes decades of Finnish policy toward the Cold War-era military alliance and it upends more than two centuries of Swedish policy. Sweden has avoided all military alliances, but like Finland, grown closer and closer to NATO over time.

Already Russia has slammed Finland’s plans to apply to join NATO imminently, claiming it would “be forced” to retaliate if the long-neutral country joined the military alliance.

Following the phone call between Mr. Niinistö and Mr. Putin on Saturday, the Kremlin said the Russian leader had stressed the “end of the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake since there is no threat to Finland’s security”.

It added: “Such a change in the country’s political orientation can have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations developed over years in a spirit of good neighbourliness and co-operation between partners.”

NATO diplomats say the application process for Finland and Sweden can take almost a year as parliaments of all 30 NATO countries need to approve new members. Finland and Sweden have asked for some guarantees that NATO member nations would defend them during this period until they become full members.

Finland shares a 1,300-km (810-mile) border with Russia. Until now, it has stayed out of Nato to avoid antagonising its eastern neighbour.