NATO to Make Its Biggest Expansion in Decades

Finland and Sweden are formally invited to join
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2022 9:05 AM CDT
Finland and Sweden Get Their NATO Invite
From left to right, top row: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Finland President Sauli Niinisto, and Sweden Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. From left to right, bottom row: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto,...   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

(Newser) – Sweden and Finland are one big step closer to joining NATO, which on Wednesday formalized its invitation to the two countries. The next step is for the 30 member states' parliaments and legislatures to ratify the decision, which is expected to move forward quickly, though the full process could take several months. Turkey on Tuesday agreed to end its opposition to welcoming the two new members, paving the way for Wednesday's move, which CNN calls NATO's "most consequential enlargement in decades."

The group said in a statement that "the accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure. The security of Finland and Sweden is of direct importance to the Alliance, including during the accession process." The New York Times gives context, saying the move "underscores how the war in Ukraine has backfired for President Vladimir V. Putin, subverting Russian efforts to weaken NATO and pushing Sweden and Finland, which were neutral and nonaligned for decades, into the alliance’s arms."

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg echoed that sentiment, per Axios. He said the invitation "demonstrates that President Putin did not succeed in closing NATO's door. NATO's door remains open. And it also demonstrates that we respect the sovereign right of every nation to choose their own path." (Read more NATO stories.)

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