NATO vote is imminent: Russian reconnaissance aircraft violates Sweden’s airspace

NATO vote imminent
Russian scout violates Sweden’s airspace

For the Kremlin, Finland and Sweden joining NATO would be a bitter defeat. Shortly before a decision is to be made in both countries, a Russian plane enters Swedish airspace. Stockholm reacted angrily.

A Russian reconnaissance plane has illegally entered Swedish airspace. The AN-30 propeller aircraft temporarily violated Swedish airspace on Friday evening, the Swedish Army General Staff said in the afternoon. She was observed and photographed by the Swedish side.

The Ministry of Defense in Stockholm condemned the incident as “completely unacceptable”. In view of the “general security situation” in particular, the airspace violation was “very inappropriate”. “Sweden’s sovereignty must always be respected,” said Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist, according to SVT television. Sweden will protest through diplomatic channels.

The incident came at a time when Sweden, like Finland, is discussing joining NATO in the face of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. According to Swedish media reports, both countries could possibly submit their application for membership to NATO as early as mid-May. The heads of state and government of the 30 NATO countries could then theoretically discuss this at their summit meeting in Madrid at the end of June.

Finland’s President wants to make a decision on May 12th

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö intends to announce his own position on the issue soon. In an interview with the Ilta-Sanomat newspaper, Niinistö said he intends to present his NATO position by May 12 at the latest. The Finnish parliamentary groups meet on this date. Two days later, Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democratic Party also intends to present its position. Ultimately, the president and the government make a joint decision on a possible Finnish NATO application.

Both Niinistö and Marin have not yet disclosed their position in the NATO debate rekindled by the Ukraine war. However, there are many indications that Finland could apply to be included in the defense alliance in the coming weeks. The Nordic EU country is coordinating closely with its neighbor Sweden, which is also a NATO partner but not a member of the alliance.

During a visit to his Swedish colleague Ann Linde in Helsinki on Friday, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said it was very important that the two countries make decisions “in the same direction and within the same timeframe”. Russia had repeatedly warned Finland and Sweden about the “consequences” of joining NATO. In both countries, public approval of this had increased significantly with the Ukraine war.

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