Crucial NATO decisions expected in Finland, Sweden this week_freckle removal natural

KARL RITTER·5 min read

STOCKHOLM (AP) — To join or not to join? The NATO question is coming to a head this week in Finland and Sweden where Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shattered the long-held belief that remaining outside the military alliance was the best way to avoid trouble with their giant neighbor.

If Finland’s president and the governing Social Democrats in both countries come out in favor of accession in the next few days, NATO could soon add two members right on Russia’s doorstep.

That would be a historic development for the two Nordic countries: Sweden has avoided military alliances for more than 200 years, while Finland adopted neutrality after being defeated by the Soviet Union in World War II.

NATO membership was never seriously considered in Stockholm and Helsinki until Russian forces attacked Ukraine on Feb. 24. Virtually overnight, the conversation in both capitals shifted from “Why should we join?" to “How long does it take?”

Along with hard-nosed Ukrainian resistance and wide-ranging Western sanctions, it’s one of the most significant ways in which the invasion appears to have backfired on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

If Finland and Sweden join the alliance, Russia would find itself completely surrounded by NATO countries in the Baltic Sea and the Arctic.

“There is no going back to the status quo before the invasion,” said Heli Hautala, a Finnish diplomat previously posted to Moscow and a research fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, the Western leader who appeared to have the best rapport with Putin before the Ukraine war, is expected to announce his stance on NATO membership on Thursday. The governing Social Democratic parties in both countries are set to present their positions this weekend.

If their answer is “yes,” there would be robust majorities in both parliaments for NATO membership, paving the way for formal application procedures to begin right away.

(editor:)

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