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NewsNATO launches ratification process for Sweden and Finland's membership...

NATO launches ratification process for Sweden and Finland’s membership in wake of Russia’s invasion

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NATO today formally launched the ratification process for Sweden and Finland to join the alliance as members, marking a historic step brought on by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The move will further increase Russia’s strategic isolation in the wake of its invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February and military struggles there since.

NATO’s 30 allies today signed an accession protocol for Finland and Sweden to allow them to join the nuclear-armed alliance once allied parliaments ratify the decision. 

‘This is truly a historic moment for Finland, for Sweden and for NATO,’ the military alliance’s chief Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in a joint press statement with the Swedish and Finnish foreign ministers.

‘With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger and our people will be even safer as we face the biggest security crisis in decades,’ he added.

The accession protocol means Helsinki and Stockholm can participate in NATO meetings and have greater access to intelligence but will not be protected by the NATO defence clause that an attack on one ally is an attack against all until ratification. That is likely to take up to a year.

NATO’s 30 ambassadors and Stoltenberg stood together for a photo in which the foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland held up their signed protocols, before breaking out into applause.

The signing of the protocols formally approved the alliance’s historic decision last week to invite Russia’s neighbor Finland and Scandinavian partner Sweden to join the military club during the NATO Summit in Madrid.

The 30 NATO allies signed off on the accession protocols for Sweden and Finland on Tuesday, sending the membership bids of the two nations to the alliance capitals for legislative approvals. Pictured: Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde (left) and Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (second left) smile as NATO ambassadors clap following the signing of the accession protocols at the NATO headquarters on Tuesday

The 30 NATO allies signed off on the accession protocols for Sweden and Finland on Tuesday, sending the membership bids of the two nations to the alliance capitals for legislative approvals. Pictured: Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde (left) and Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (second left) smile as NATO ambassadors clap following the signing of the accession protocols at the NATO headquarters on Tuesday

'This is truly a historic moment for Finland, for Sweden and for NATO,' the military alliance's chief Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in a joint press statement with the Swedish and Finnish foreign ministers

‘This is truly a historic moment for Finland, for Sweden and for NATO,’ the military alliance’s chief Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in a joint press statement with the Swedish and Finnish foreign ministers

Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde (right), Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (left) attend a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (centre), after signing their countries' accession protocols at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde (right), Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (left) attend a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (centre), after signing their countries’ accession protocols at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday

NATO today launched the ratification process for Sweden and Finland to join the alliance as members

NATO today launched the ratification process for Sweden and Finland to join the alliance as members

The alliance were able to endorse Finland and Sweden joining the alliance after member state Turkey won concessions over concerns it had raised and a US promise it would receive new warplanes.

But despite the agreement in the alliance and Turkey winning concessions, parliamentary approval in Ankara could still pose problems for Finland and Sweden’s final inclusion as members. 

Last week, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Ankara could still block the process if the two countries fail to fully meet Turkey’s demand to extradite terror suspects with links to outlawed Kurdish groups or the network of an exiled cleric accused of a failed 2016 coup in Turkey.

He said Turkey’s Parliament could refuse to ratify the deal. It is a potent threat since NATO accession must be formally approved by all 30 member states, which gives each a blocking right.

Stoltenberg said he expected no change of heart. ‘There were security concerns that needed to be addressed. And we did what we always do at NATO. We found common ground.’

Every alliance nation has different legislative challenges and procedures to deal with, and it could take several more months for the two to become official members.

Finland and Sweden will bring with them almost 1million troops, including reserves, along with a huge amount of artillery, jets and submarines

Finland and Sweden will bring with them almost 1million troops, including reserves, along with a huge amount of artillery, jets and submarines

‘I look forward to a swift ratification process,’ said Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.

‘We are tremendously grateful for all the strong support that our accession has received from the allies,’ said Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde.

‘We are convinced that our membership would strengthen NATO and add to the stability in the Euro Atlantic area,’ she added.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has given the process added urgency. It will ensconce the two nations in the Western military alliance and give NATO more clout, especially in the face of Moscow’s military threat.

‘We will be even stronger and our people will be even safer as we face the biggest security crisis in decades,’ said Stoltenberg.

Tuesday’s signing-off does bring both nations deeper into NATO’s fold already. As close partners, they already attended some meetings that involved issues that immediately affected them. As official invitees, they can attend all meetings of the ambassadors even if they do not yet have any voting rights.

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