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Will the Ukraine Crisis Spillover into Northern Europe?

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Finland’s leaders announced on Thursday that they will seek to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) “without delay,” marking a drastic reversal of the neutrality policy adopted by Helsinki in the aftermath of World War II.

“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,” President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement. “Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” the statement added. “We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.” Sweden, which has formally unlinked its NATO membership process from Finland, is reportedly set to follow in the coming weeks.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said earlier in April that Finland and Sweden would be “warmly welcomed” and “quickly” accepted if they applied to join the alliance. NATO officials say the accession process for Finland and Sweden—both countries that already boast a high degree of interoperability with NATO’s military infrastructure—could be done in weeks.

But the expansion of NATO into Finland and Sweden may prove to be more fraught than the alliance’s leadership expects. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that Ankara does not support Helsinki and Stockholm joining NATO. “We are following developments concerning Sweden and Finland, but we are not of a favorable opinion,” Erdogan told reporters, according to the AP. One of NATO’s most militarily and geopolitically significant members,........

© The National Interest

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