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International: Sweden and Finland bid to join NATO

3:00pm on 17 May 2022

By Jessica Hopkins

Sweden and Finland have formally announced their intent to join NATO amid the war in Ukraine, but Turkey is threatening to block their bids. 

The move is seen as a shift away from the traditional stance of neutrality held by both nations and comes as the alliance begins one of the biggest-ever exercises in the Baltics, involving 15,000 troops.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson says that Europe is now living in a dangerous new reality.

Former Sweden Prime Minister Carl Bildt says the move to join NATO may solidify and unify defence and security across the Northern European area.

Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has stated his opposition to Finland and Sweden joining the 30-member military alliance and says they will block their bids. 

For Finland and Sweden to join Nato, all 30 existing members must say yes.

President Erdogan says he won't agree to admit countries that apply sanctions on Turkey. He is also upset by what he views as their willingness to host Kurdish militants.

On Sunday, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said he was confident that Finland and Sweden would join, despite Turkey's opposition. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the move by Finland and Sweden, stating that it does not directly threaten Moscow but stressed that any expansion of military infrastructure would cause a response from the Kremlin.

The announcement follows reports from British Military Intelligence that Russia's offensive in Donbas has lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.