(PatriotWise.com)- In what can only be considered a catastrophic and ironic twist for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Finland and Sweden have taken big steps to joining NATO.
One of the major reasons Putin apparently invaded neighboring Ukraine was to stop the spread of influence of NATO in the east — near his country. Instead of doing that, his ongoing war has influenced two former neutral countries to join up with NATO, and one of those countries shares a land border with Russia.
Earlier this week, the two Nordic countries took another big step forward in their path toward NATO membership when all the other 30 member states signed what’s known as the accession protocol for them to join.
The individual governments of both Finland and Sweden now must ratify those protocols to move their application process along.
While Finland and Sweden have worked with NATO countries as partners in the past, they have officially remained neutral in world politics. Both countries have sent troops to participate in joint military exercises as well as sent officials to participate in NATO meetings.
Officially, though, they have maintained their neutrality status. But, that all changed following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
While both countries were seeking to join NATO, their ultimate membership was initially called into question, as Turkey was opposed to them joining at first. Only one member state needs to oppose a new nation joining NATO to block entry.
Last week, though, the government in Turkey announced at a summit meeting of the organization that they would be lifting their veto of the bid from the two countries. The announcement came after Turkey was reassured that Sweden and Finland would work harder to combat forces that Turkey considers to be terrorists in their country.
Following all NATO members signing onto the protocols earlier this week, Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of NATO, said:
“This is a good day for Finland and Sweden, and a good day for NATO. With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger and our people will be even safer as we face the biggest security crisis in decades.
“NATO’s door remains open to European democracies who are ready to and willing to contribute to our shared security.”
Now that all current member nations have signed the protocols, both Finland and Sweden are able to participate in any NATO meetings. They are also given access to any intelligence that the organization has.
Until they receive full ratification, though, Finland and Sweden won’t receive full protections under the defense clause in Article 5. That states that any military attack on one country is considered an attack on any other members of NATO.
That process could take a year or more to complete, leaving the two countries relatively vulnerable to attack in the meantime.
That being said, President Joe Biden has said that the United States would work with the two countries to help ensure they our secure while the process is being completed.