Helsinki (Times Of Ocean)- Finland and Sweden will jointly express their desire to join NATO in May, the tabloids Iltalehti in Finland and Expressen in Sweden reported on Monday, citing sources.
Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the Nordic countries have opted to stay out of the military alliance. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a “special operation”, has forced Sweden and Finland to examine if their longstanding neutrality is still the best way to ensure national security.
Iltalehti states that the leaders of Finland and Sweden plan to meet the week of May 16 and announce their intention to apply to join the alliance afterwards.
Finish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto declined to comment, but reiterated his longstanding view that Finland and Sweden should make similar choices.
Swedish daily Aftonbladet reported separately, citing sources in the Swedish government, that the United States and Britain had promised Sweden increased military presence, more in-depth military exercises, and “strong political support from NATO countries” during a possible NATO application process.
Reports by Expressen and Aftonbladet were not commented upon by the Swedish foreign ministry.
Sanna Marin, the Finnish prime minister, said two weeks ago that she expected Finland to decide whether to apply for NATO membership within weeks of visiting her Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson.
Stockholm is reviewing its security policy, which will include a look at possible NATO membership. The results are expected by mid-May.
Separately, Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats are also reviewing their long-held opposition to NATO membership. The decision is expected by May 24 at the latest.