Finland Makes Bid for NATO Official

Sweden's ruling party reverses on opposition to joining alliance
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2022 4:45 PM CDT
Sweden's Ruling Party Agrees to NATO Bid
Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden takes questions Sunday at Social Democrat headquarters in Stockholm.   (Fredrik Persson/TT News Agency via AP)

NATO moved closer to expansion on Sunday, as Finland confirmed its intention to apply for membership and Sweden's ruling party dropped its opposition to that nation joining. Both countries have long been militarily nonaligned, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said their joining the organization will constitute a "historic moment," the Washington Post reports. Sweden has not been involved in a military conflict in more than 200 years, per the BBC.

The prime minister and president said Sunday that Finland's application could be submitted as soon as Tuesday. President Sauli Niinisto said he had a "calm" phone call about the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who told him Finland's decision is a mistake. NATO's growth would be a setback strategically for Russia, per the New York Times. At a meeting in Berlin of NATO foreign ministers on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he heard "almost across the board very strong support" for Finland and Sweden joining the alliance. Stoltenberg said the move will demonstrate that "aggression does not pay."

In Stockholm, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said, "We Social Democrats believe the best for Sweden, and the Swedish people's security is to join NATO." Her party has long supported military neutrality, even after Sweden became a member of the European Union, but that has changed since Russia invaded Ukraine. "Military nonalignment has served Sweden well, but our conclusion is that it won’t serve us equally well in the future," Andersson said. A former prime minister, Carl Bildt, told the BBC that with Sweden and Finland in NATO, it will be possible to "solidify and unify the defense and security arrangements for the entire northern European area." (Read more NATO stories.)

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