Timeline for NATO expansion reportedly revealed — Analysis
According to sources, The Times reports that Finland and Sweden could be joining the US-led military bloc within months.
Finland and Sweden could join NATO as early as this summer in response to Moscow’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine, according to a report by The Times on Monday.
Unnamed US officials said that the Finnish application for membership to the bloc was expected to be submitted by June. Sweden will follow the example of Finland shortly thereafter.
It was discussed whether the Nordic countries could be a part of one another. “a topic of conversation and multiple sessions” during the summit of NATO’s foreign ministers in Brussels last week, the sources said. Finland’s FM Pekka Haavisto and his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde were both present at the two-day talks.
Helsinki and Stockholm “would be real feathers in NATO’s cap as net contributors,” especially in terms of intelligence-gathering and air-force capabilities, according to a European diplomat who talked to the paper.
Russia, Finland, and Sweden have all access to the Baltic Sea. There is a common Russian-Finnish land frontier that spans approximately 1,340km.
According to a senior US official, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was “a massive strategic blunder for [Russia’s President Vladimir] Putin”It made Helsinki and Stockholm question the policy they had of not joining military alliances.
Moscow opposes the expansion of NATO, but the inclusion of Finland and Sweden in the bloc won’t become an existential threat to it, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told Sky News on Friday. Russia, however, would need to take its responsibilities seriously. “Western flank more sophisticated in terms of ensuring our security”If such a move occurs, he stated.
NATO “tailored for confrontation and the main purpose for its existence is to confront our country,”Peskov stated.
Finland has to decide what it wants from NATO “thoroughly but quickly,” Sanna Marin, the country’s prime minister, said earlier this month. “Russia is not the neighbor we thought it was,”She insisted.
“I don’t exclude NATO membership in any way,”In late March, Magdalena Andersson, her Swedish counterpart pointed this out.
Both Helsinki and Stockholm have announced that they’re now carrying out reviews of their security policies. It is anticipated that the Finnish review will be finished by mid April and the Swedish by May end.
Finland’s foreign minister had earlier suggested that, if the country eventually decides to join the bloc, it could take the parliaments of the 30 NATO member states between four and 12 months to officially approve the bid.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, however, insists “the very decision to welcome Finland to NATO can be made very quickly and then it is a formal process in the capitals or parliaments to ratify it.”
Russia launched a large-scale offensive against Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Minsk Protocol, which was French and German-brokered, was intended to regulate the state of regions in the Ukrainian state.
Russia demanded Ukraine be declared neutral by Washington and refuse to join NATO’s military bloc. Kiev maintains that Russia’s offensive was not provoked and denies claims it planned to take the two rebel territories by force.