Finland and Sweden to join NATO
GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)
After decades of staying out of military alliances, Finland on 15 May 2022 officially announced it would apply for NATO membership, with neighbouring Sweden expected to follow suit soon. The two Nordic countries have expressed a desire to act in unison and submit their applications jointly, in a move seen as a deterrent against aggression from Russia.
- For decades, a majority of Swedes and Finns were in favour of maintaining their policies of military non-alignment. But Russia's invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 sparked a sharp U-turn.
- The change was especially dramatic in Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia.
- After two decades during which public support for NATO membership remained steady at 20-30 percent, polls now suggest that more than 75 percent of Finns are in favour.
- During the Cold War, Finland remained neutral in exchange for assurances from Moscow that it would not invade. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Finland remained militarily non-aligned.
- Sweden, meanwhile, adopted an official policy of neutrality at the end of the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century.
- Following the end of the Cold War, the neutrality policy was amended to one of military non-alignment.
- While remaining outside NATO, both Sweden and Finland have formed ever-closer ties to the Alliance. Both joined the Partnership for Peace programme in 1994 and then the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997.
- Both countries are described by the Alliance as some of "NATO's most active partners" and have contributed to NATO-led peacekeeping missions in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.
- Sweden's and Finland's forces also regularly take part in exercises with NATO countries and have close ties with Nordic neighbours Norway, Denmark and Iceland -- which are all NATO members.