BRUSSELS (Transatlantic Today) — After Sweden and Finland filed membership requests, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced on Wednesday that the military alliance is prepared to grab a historic opportunity and act rapidly to admit the two nations.
The ambassadors of Sweden and Finland submitted official applications to NATO, which started the security clock ticking. According to ABC NEWS, Russia, whose assault on Ukraine prompted them to join the military alliance, has cautioned that it will not embrace such a move and may respond.
“This is a good day at a critical time for our security,” Stoltenberg said, standing alongside the 2 envoys, with Swedish, Finnish, and NATO flags behind them.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that NATO quit expanding toward Russian territory, as well as several NATO allies, led by the United Kingdom and the United States, have indicated that they are prepared to provide security assistance to Sweden and Finland if he tries to provoke or destabilize them during the transition period.
The nations will only profit from NATO’s Article 5 security guarantee, which states that any assault on one member will be deemed an assault on all members, until the membership confirmation process is completed, which is expected to take a few months.
For the time being, the 30 member nations must weigh in on the application. Although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised skepticism about Sweden and Finland joining, the process is estimated to take around 2 weeks.
If his concerns are resolved and accession talks progress as planned, the two countries may join in a matter of months. Normally, the procedure takes 8 to 12 months, but NATO wants to act quickly considering the threat that Russia poses to the Nordic nations.
NATO allies, according to Stoltenberg, are committed to work through all difficulties and find quick conclusions.
Because the Nordic countries applied together, they won’t have to waste time ratifying each other’s membership applications.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, public opinion in Sweden and Finland has swung dramatically in favor of membership.
Sweden and Finland have a close relationship with NATO. They have working democracies and well-funded military forces, and they participate in alliance military and aviation operations. Any challenges they meet will be purely technological or political in nature.
The NATO membership procedure is not standardized, thus the steps can differ. However, their membership petitions will first be considered at a meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) of the 30 member nations, most likely at the ambassadorial level.
The NAC will determine whether to pursue membership and what measures are required to do so. This is largely determined by how well candidate nations adhere to NATO’s political, military, and legal requirements, as well as if they assist in North Atlantic security. For Sweden and Finland, this should not be a significant issue.
Moving forward, the 2 will be asked to commit to upholding Article 5 and meeting spending obligations related to the NATO in-house budget, which is around $2.5 billion dollars and is split proportionally among what would be 32 member nations during accession negotiations that could be concluded in only one day when the terms of those negotiations are set.
Sweden and Finland would be informed of their involvement in NATO defense planning, as well as any other legal or security requirements they may have, such as personnel vetting and managing classified information.