Finland and Sweden will jointly proclaim their desire to join NATO in May, according to tabloid newspapers Iltalehti in Finland and Expressen in Sweden, citing persons familiar with the situation.
Despite tightening cooperation with the military alliance since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, the Nordic countries have chosen to remain outside. However, Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine has prompted Sweden and Finland to reconsider whether their long-standing military neutrality is still the best way to ensure national security.
Finland’s and Sweden’s leaders, according to Iltalehti, aim to meet in the week of May 16 and then publicly announce their intentions to join the alliance.
Pekka Haavisto, Finland’s foreign minister, declined to comment, but reiterated his long-held position that Finland and Sweden should make similar decisions.
Separately, Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet stated that the US and UK have promised Sweden “greater military presence, more in-depth military drills, and’strong political’ support from NATO members” during a hypothetical NATO application process, citing sources close to Swedish government offices.
The Swedish foreign ministry declined to comment on the stories from Expressen and Aftonbladet.
While visiting her Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson two weeks ago, Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin stated that she expected Finland to make a decision on whether or not to apply for NATO membership within weeks.
Stockholm is undergoing a security policy review, which includes a look at future NATO membership, with results expected in mid-May.
Separately, Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats are reconsidering their long-held anti-NATO stance. By the 24th of May, this should be completed.