Finland, Sweden Formally Submit NATO Applications

Putin has warned he would respond to an expansion of NATO military infrastructure in the region

On Wednesday, Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO as the two nations are breaking from their policies of neutrality.

Sweden has been a neutral country since the early 1800s, and the policy kept the country out of the world wars, sparing it from being destroyed like most of Europe. Finland, which shares an over 800-mile border with Russia, has been neutral since the end of World War II.

The two countries decided together to scrap their non-alignment in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the Nordic countries’ break from neutrality. “I warmly welcome the requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest partners,” he said. “This is a historic moment, which we must seize.”

The two countries joining NATO and expanding the alliance further onto Russia’s border will significantly escalate tensions in the region. Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week that while Finland and Sweden joining NATO isn’t a “threat” to Russia since it has no problems with the nations, he said Moscow would have to respond if NATO military infrastructure is expanded.

While Stoltenberg and most NATO countries have said they expect a swift application process, Turkey objects to Finland and Sweden joining and blocked the alliance from holding early talks on their membership.

Ankara wants Helsinki and Stockholm to lift export controls it imposed on Turkey and to denounce the PKK, a Kurdish group Ankara considers a terrorist organization. Stoltenberg didn’t appear too concerned over Turkey’s objection and said NATO allies “are determined to work through all issues and reach rapid conclusions.”

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.