China Daily
April 15, 2022

Stakes rise as Sweden, Finland eye NATO move

Sweden and Finland, which have long held a policy of neutrality in military conflicts, are likely to become the latest countries to join the US-led NATO as the Russia-Ukraine conflict triggered deep security concerns in Europe.

At a joint news conference in Stockholm with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Wednesday, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Finland would make a decision within “weeks rather than months”, while Andersson said her country would not rush a decision, but its assessment of the security situation would be “thorough but expedient”.

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“There are still political processes to be completed in the two countries, but now both Sweden and Finland are on track to apply for NATO membership before its Madrid summit,” wrote Carl Bildt, former Swedish prime minister and now co-chair of think tank European Council on Foreign Relations, in a tweet on Wednesday.

Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported that Sweden would likely seek to join NATO in June during its summit in Madrid, Spain….

Meanwhile, Finland’s parliament will hold hearings by its security experts in the coming weeks as the country makes its decision “before midsummer”, Marin said.

A survey by the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat showed that half of the 200 members of parliament approve of NATO membership, while 12 firmly opposed….

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Door remains open

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and top United States officials have said that the door for NATO membership remains open.

Russia, which has long opposed NATO expansion eastward, has warned that Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership would not bring stability to Europe.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, said on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland join NATO, Russia will take measures in the Baltics.

“There can be no more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltics,” he said.

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