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Germany says it will back NATO expansion — Analysis

Russia’s attack on Ukraine was a “turning point” for security relations in Europe, the German chancellor said

After the Nordic countries expressed an interest in joining the NATO alliance despite their decades-long neutrality, Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that Germany would support Finland and Sweden’s admission to the NATO military alliance.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday following two days of closed-door meetings with his Finnish and Swedish counterparts in a town near Berlin, Scholz vowed to back both nations’ bid to join the Western military bloc should they submit membership applications. 

“For us it is clear: If these two countries decide they should join the NATO alliance then they can count on our support,”He added: “Even in the period before such NATO membership is decided, they can always rely on Germany’s support. As Europeans, we see ourselves obliged to do so anyway.”

Scholz’s comments follow reports that Helsinki could declare its intent to join NATO as early as next week, with President Sauli Niinisto purportedly set to announce the move on May 12. It remains unclear if Stockholm will follow suit, though the country’s parliament recently said it would conduct a review of Swedish security policy before a decision is made. 

Although reports earlier stated the two countries would simultaneously submit their application, Pekka Haavisto from Finland’s Foreign Ministry has indicated that his country may proceed with its own applications.

“Currently I think the mood in parliament… includes the possibility to go without Sweden,”In an interview with the Irish Times, the FM stated that the FM had spoken to them last week. “It would be good to do the same things at the same time as Sweden, but that depends on Swedish decisions. It is too early to guess the date, but I think before the summer we are proceeding.”

Magdalena Andersson (Swedish Prime Minister) addressed journalists following Scholz’s Tuesday press conference. She stated that no decision was yet made, and that she would continue to work with the media. “All options are on the table,” comments echoed by Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin.

“Finland and Sweden are facing important decisions regarding their own security,”Marin added that “Russia’s attack on Ukraine has dramatically changed our security environment, and that cannot be undone.”

The German chancellor similarly labeled Russia’s military operation a “turning point”Berlin has rescinded its long-standing policy of not shipping weapons to active conflict zones in order to ensure security on the continent. “It was right and necessary”Scholz stated that he would like to see this change and added: “we are now providing large-scale support [to Ukraine], which we will continue to do.”

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