Finland is expected to announce its NATO bid today, with Sweden likely to follow soon after, The NY Times reports.
Nato allies expect Finland and Sweden to be granted membership quickly into the alliance, paving the way for the Nordic region to have increased troop presence during the one-year ratification period.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised yesterday to defend both countries against potential Russian threats as he traveled to Sweden and Finland to sign mutual security agreements.
In the Nordic region, Denmark, Norway, and three Baltic states are already members of the NATO alliance. Finland and Sweden’s NATO bid will likely anger Russia, which has said that the enlargement of the alliance is a direct threat to its security.
Russian President Vladimir Putin cited NATO expansion as a reason for his invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine has also expressed a desire to join Nato.
Moscow has issued related warnings to Sweden and Finland against joining NATO, threatening “serious military and political consequences.”
Finland President Sauli Niinisto said that if joining NATO provokes Russia, Putin will be to blame. Niinisto said that the response would be that Putin caused this, and to “look at the mirror.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned today that Russia was the “most direct threat” to world order because of its war in Ukraine, which she said was “barbaric.”
Von Der Leyen made the remarks while in Japan with the European Council President Charles Michel for talks, which have touched on Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. They have also discussed growing concerns about China’s role in the region and beyond.
U.S. President Joe Biden has previously said that Putin mistakenly believed that his ongoing Russian war in Ukraine would lead to dismantling NATO and breaking apart the European Union.
But the war has almost done the opposite, with the U.S. and European countries backing Ukraine in the war. And now, more countries are considering joining NATO.