April 20, 2024

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Blinken says the US will support Sweden and Finland's NATO membership

Blinken says the US will support Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership

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Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday that the United States would “strongly support” NATO membership for Sweden and Finland if they chose to join the military alliance.

The remarks of the senior US diplomat are likely to lead to an angry reaction from Moscow recently threatened To move nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles near the borders of Sweden and Finland if they choose to join the military alliance.

“The world has changed dramatically, and among the ways in which it is changing is the strong interest of both countries in becoming members of NATO,” Blinken said. “We, of course, look to them to make that decision. If that’s what they decided, we would strongly support it.”

The United States has long made it clear that it supports NATO’s open door policy, which allows any country to apply for membership. But she was more careful about explaining what would happen next.

“They’ve been very careful what they say, they always say we have an open door policy and that’s where they stop,” said a Nordic diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security issues.

The diplomat said Blinken’s comments were stronger support for NATO membership than he had heard from the United States in the past. “In the past, they did not want to give the impression that they were trying to attract Sweden and Finland to join NATO. They did not want to bother the Russians unnecessarily.

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Sweden refrained from joining military alliances for more than two centuries. Finland fought dozens of wars with Russia but sought a neutral post-war status.

But since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the two countries have reconsidered their current position, and have seen an increase in public support for joining NATO. NATO enlargement, which requires consensus among the 30 members, would represent the most significant geopolitical consequence of the Russian incursion to date. Finland’s accession to NATO would double Russia’s land borders with allied members.

Membership will include the United States providing security guarantees to two more vulnerable countries in Europe at a time when it seeks to rebalance its interest in East Asia. The goal would be to deter Russia from invading its other neighbors, Although he might also risk further aggression from Moscow.

Before the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin made Long-term the demand That NATO refrains from expanding to the east, and accused the military alliance of trying to “encircle” Russia. In December, he described any further NATO expansion as “unacceptable”.

“Is there anything unclear about this? Are we deploying missiles near the borders of the United States? No we are not. It was the United States that came to our house with its missiles and they are already standing on our doorstep,” Putin said at his annual press conference. By not setting up strike systems near our house? What is unusual about this? “

When asked when the two countries could become members, Blinken said, “I can’t give you a timetable,” but noted an upcoming meeting of NATO countries in May where “we’ll hear more about that.”

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During a press conference on April 13 in Stockholm, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said she expects a quick decision on NATO membership. (Video: The Washington Post)

“The decision on this matter will be made very soon,” Finland’s Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, said Thursday. Marin had said on April 13 that Finland would launch a missile instant discussion On joining NATO – she said that a decision with “different views” for and against the implementation had to be “carefully analyzed”. A survey in Finland found that Unprecedented majority The Finns supported joining NATO, in the early days of the Russian invasion.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson also said this month that Sweden was considering its position outside NATO. An opinion poll showed that in early March, a majority of Swedes for the first time supported NATO membership.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the two countries, which he called “our closest partners”, would be quickly welcomed into the alliance.

“It’s their decision,” Stoltenberg said. “But if they decide to go forward, Finland and Sweden will be warmly welcomed, and I expect this process to go quickly.”