Lhe Finland has formalized its candidacy to join NATO. Sweden is preparing to do the same. These are two decisions taken in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The prospect of a Swedish-Finnish entry into NATO “does not constitute an immediate threat”, affirmed, Monday, May 16, Vladimir Putin, after several declarations expressing the irritation of Moscow these last days. The Russian president, however, said that Russia would react to deployments of “military infrastructure” in the two Nordic countries.
The formalization of the Swedish candidacy – which Emmanuel Macron says he “fully” supports – was imminent on Monday, after a discussion before Parliament. “After this debate, I can see that there is a large and large majority in Parliament for Sweden to be a candidate for NATO. […] and the government is ready to take this decision,” said Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
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Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Helsinki has been at the forefront of NATO membership, with Sweden more of a follower. If the Scandinavian country became the only non-NATO member country around the Baltic Sea, it would find itself “in a very vulnerable position”, she pleaded, citing the risk of seeing “Russia increase the pressure on Sweden “.
The candidatures of Sweden and Finland to NATO in reaction to the Russian offensive against Ukraine constitute a “serious error” whose “consequences will have a considerable range”, judged, Monday, the Russian deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Ryabkov. While the Kremlin justified its invasion of Ukraine by the risk of NATO extending to its doors, Finnish membership would extend the border between Russia and the countries of the alliance by some 1,300 kilometers. “We are convinced that the entry into NATO of Finland and Sweden will neither strengthen nor improve the security architecture of our continent,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said on Monday.
With Sweden in addition, the Baltic Sea would become a “Nato lake”, outside Russian waters off the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and Saint Petersburg. The Eduskunta, the Finnish Parliament, began a marathon session on Monday morning to examine the candidacy officially presented on Sunday by the executive, before a vote which will take place no earlier than Tuesday. According to the latest Finnish media reports, at least 85% of the 200 elected will vote yes to the NATO candidacy.
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France “will stand alongside Finland and Sweden”
France “will stand alongside Finland and Sweden” in the event of aggression, the Elysée declared on Monday evening after these two countries announced that they wanted to join NATO. “Any state that would seek to test European solidarity, through a threat or aggression against their sovereignty by any means whatsoever, must have the certainty that France will stand alongside Finland and Sweden”, writes the French presidency in a press release.
For his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday evening that Turkey will “not give in” to Sweden and Finland joining NATO after the two countries formalized their candidacy. “How are we going to trust them? Sweden is the breeding ground for terrorist organizations (…) We will not give in on the NATO membership of those who apply sanctions against Turkey”, hammered the Head of State, again accusing the two Nordic countries to show leniency towards the Kurdish rebels of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) considered a terrorist organization. Turkey accuses Sweden and Finland in particular of not approving its requests for the extradition of people it accuses of being members of “terrorist organizations”, the Turkish state agency Anadolu reported on Monday.