Finnish lawmakers on Tuesday voted in favor of a request for NATO membership. The vote came after the parliament’s foreign affairs committee recommended the move because of a threat posed by Russia’s foreign policy to Europe.
The 200-seat body overwhelmingly supported the motion, with 188 lawmakers backing the decision and only eight voting against.
Earlier in the day, in Sweden, Foreign Minister Anne Linde signed a formal request to join NATO. The two nations had earlier decided to seek membership together.
The US-led military alliance has promised to speed up the recruitment process for both Sweden and Finland as future allies, citing their close integration with NATO military infrastructure. It usually takes a few years for countries to complete all the necessary reforms after receiving the Membership Action Plan.
All member states are required to formally accept the two petitions, but Turkey has already stated that it could block the accession of the two Nordic countries because of what it calls a record of harboring terrorists on its soil. Ankara was explicitly referring to opponents of the Turkish government granting political asylum in Sweden and Finland.
Russia has warned that the two countries are doing wrong by going against their respective traditions. Moscow has said the national security of the two Nordic countries would be compromised rather than served by the move, as Russia would modify its military stance accordingly. Russia views NATO as a hostile tool in Washington’s foreign policy and blames its uncontrolled expansion into Europe for the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Russia invaded the neighboring country in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the first Minsk agreement, signed in 2014, and the final recognition of Moscow’s Donetsk and Lugansk’s Donbas republics. The German- and French-brokerage protocols were designed to give special status to isolated territories within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine formally declare itself a neutral state that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kyiv has insisted that the Russian invasion was completely unpopular and has denied claims that it is planning to forcibly retake the two republics.
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