Sweden has decided to join Nato, according to reports, with Finland likely to follow “within weeks”, in a sign of how badly Russia’s attempts to counter the alliance’s influence in Europe has backfired.
At a joint press conference on Wednesday in Stockholm, Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that her country would make its decision “within weeks, not within months”, while Sweden’s Magdalena Andersson said the decision should be made early enough for the issue not to clash with September’s general election.
According to Swedish media reports, Ms Andersson has already decided to join Nato, with her government hoping to submit an application at the alliance’s summit at the end of June.
“I see no point in delaying this analysis, or the process,” Ms Andersson said. “We have elections in September, so later in the year, we want to have more focus on that.”
‘A strategic win for Nato’
Sweden and Finland joining would be a major strategic win for Nato, strengthening the alliance’s northeastern flank, giving it Finland’s formidable artillery force – the largest in Western Europe – and bringing it access to the strategic Swedish island of Gotland.
Finland’s parliament is due next week to begin discussing whether to join Nato on the basis of a government report on changes to the security climate, published on Wednesday.
The report concludes that “the deterrent effect of Finland’s defence would be considerably stronger” if the country joins Nato “than it is at present”.
In the longer term, it argues that Finnish and Swedish Nato membership “would increase the long-term stability of the Baltic Sea region” because it “would raise the threshold for the use of military force”.