by Jari Tanner The Associated Press
Helsinki ( Associated Press) – European Union nations Finland and Sweden reached important stages on the way to potential NATO membership on Wednesday as the Finnish government issued a security report to lawmakers and Sweden’s ruling party began a review of security policy options.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February marked the beginning of an increase in support for joining NATO in the two traditionally militarily non-aligned Nordic countries, with most respondents in the polls wanting to join the alliance in Finland and NATO supporters in Sweden. The numbers were clearly higher than those. against the idea.
Finland, a country of 5.5 million, shares the EU’s longest border with Russia, a 1,340-kilometre (833-mi) border. Sweden has no borders with Russia.
Russia, for its part, has warned Sweden and Finland against joining NATO, with officials saying it would not contribute to stability in Europe. Officials said Russia would respond to such a move with “military and political consequences” for Helsinki and Stockholm. One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reasons for invading Ukraine was that the country refused to promise that it would not join NATO.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, speaking at a joint news conference with her Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersen in Stockholm on Wednesday, said Finland would decide on NATO “within weeks” instead of months after extensive debate in the 200-seat Eduskunta legislature. ready for ,
Marin stressed that Finland and Sweden, two neighboring Nordic countries with close economic, political and military ties, would make independent decisions regarding their security policy regime, including joining NATO.
“But we do so with the clear understanding that our choices will affect not only ourselves but our neighbors as well,” Marin said. He said he would love to see both Finland and Sweden become NATO members.
Andersen said Sweden and Finland would maintain “a very close dialogue and a very direct and honest discussion” on their countries’ respective options on NATO in the coming weeks.
The only real alternative to NATO membership may be an enhanced bilateral military cooperation paired with the United States and Nordic NATO member Norway, Finnish experts have said.
Marin and Anderson lead the ruling Social Democratic parties in their respective countries. The parties are expected to announce their NATO views at the beginning and end of May, respectively. The parliaments of both countries are finally set to make a decision on the matter – something that could happen in Finland at the end of May and Sweden sometime later.
Complicating things in Sweden are the general elections in September, which are likely to be dominated by the NATO issue.
In Finland, President Souli Niinisto said he was confident his country’s decision on NATO would be ready ahead of the June 29-30 NATO summit in Madrid, Spain.
On Wednesday, Finland’s government released a much-anticipated report on changes in Finland’s security environment that lawmakers will begin to debate after the Easter holiday. The report addresses the pros and cons of Finland’s potential membership in NATO, focusing on supply threats, economic impacts, cyber security and hydride threats.
Presenting the report, Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Havisto said: “The war launched by Russia threatens security and stability across Europe.” “Russia’s attack on Ukraine will have a long-term impact on our own security environment. Confidence in Russia has eroded.”
Andersen said on Wednesday that Sweden’s government was working with all parties in the 349-seat Riksdag legislature on a safety-environment analysis. He said the report is due on May 31 but it can be completed earlier. In addition, Andersen’s Social Democratic Party has launched its own separate review of Sweden’s security environment.
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by Jari Tanner The Associated Press