NATO Formally Invites Sweden, Finland to Join

The US-led military bloc NATO has formally invited previously non-aligned Sweden and Finland to join its ranks.

“Today, we have decided to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO, and agreed to sign the Accession Protocols,” the bloc said in a statement on Wednesday during the summit in Madrid, Spain.

The two Nordic states decided to ditch their longstanding tradition of not joining a military bloc after Russia sent troops to Ukraine in late February.

Shortly before the invitation was announced, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described the route of Sweden and Finland to membership as “unprecedented.”

"I think you can hardly find any other accession process with so few weeks between the application that happened mid-May and the invitation that will happen now."

The decision to admit the two Nordic nations into the bloc must now be approved by the parliaments of all 30 member states.

“That always takes some time. But I [also] expect that to go rather quickly,” Stoltenberg said, adding that the allies are “ready” to have the ratification done as soon as possible.

Sweden and Finland signed an agreement with Turkey on Tuesday that paves the way for the invitation. Ankara had previously said it would block their membership, accusing the Nordic states of harboring people with links to Kurdish organizations, which Turkey considers terrorist groups.

Russian President Vladimir Putin cited NATO’s expansion eastward and attempts to establish “a foothold” in Ukraine as one of the reasons for the conflict in Ukraine.

You can read this article as it originally appears at RT here.

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