Sweden and Finland have formally confirmed they intend to apply for NATO membership, seeking to join the 30-member security bloc.
Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson made the announcement that Sweden would join Finland in seeking NATO membership in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It signals a monumental shift in security policy for the Nordic country after more than two centuries of neutrality.
“We will inform NATO that we want to become a member of the alliance,” Andersson said on Monday, implying that the time of non-alignment was over.
“Sweden needs formal security guarantees that come with membership in NATO.”
“The Swedish government’s intent is to apply for NATO-membership,” said Anne Linde, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.
“A historic day for Sweden. With a broad support from political parties in the parliament, the conclusion is that Sweden will stand stronger together with allies in NATO.”
Russia’s attack on Ukraine has forced both Sweden and Finland to reassess their security and foreign policy stances, with public support for joining NATO growing since the invasion.
Finland confirmed its intention to apply for NATO membership just before Sweden.
“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security,” the Prime Minister and President of Finland said in a joint statement.
“As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance. Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay.”
In a speech to parliament on Monday, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said: “I believe that I am speaking on behalf of many people in Finland when I say that our shared task is to safeguard Finland’s independence and integrity and the opportunity of Finns to live their lives safely and peacefully in all situations.
“Promoting the rules-based world order, human rights and peace are the cornerstones of Finland’s foreign policy. In this changed security environment, membership in NATO would strengthen Finland’s opportunities to advance these objectives as well as Finland’s international position.”
The UK has strongly supported the applications for NATO membership.
“They should be integrated into the Alliance as soon as possible; their accession will strengthen the collective security of Europe,” UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.
“We look forward to working with them as new NATO Allies and stand ready to offer them our every assistance during the accession process.
“Our mutual security declarations signed with Sweden and Finland last week by the Prime Minister demonstrate our steadfast and unequivocal commitment to both countries during this process and beyond.”
Finland shares a 1300 kilometre border with Russia. Sweden shares a maritime border.