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Sweden and Finland plan to join NATO

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered an urgent overhaul of security policy in Scandinavian countries, with Sweden and Finland considering joining NATO.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet his counterparts in Stockholm and Helsinki during a one-day visit on Wednesday, answering questions from media in both countries.

“We support the democratic ability of countries to decide things like NATO membership,” Johnson’s spokesman said.

“We understand the positions of Sweden and Finland and that is why the Prime Minister is going to discuss these broader security issues.”

A formal application to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization could be tabled at the alliance’s June summit in Madrid and is expected to be expedited, although securing signatures from all 30 alliance members can take up to a year.

Finland and Sweden would like to have guarantees that NATO member countries will defend them during any transition period, when they are candidates for the alliance, but not yet.

Britain has been one of the strongest supporters of Ukraine’s efforts to resist Russian forces since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion on February 24.

The government has sent anti-tank missiles, air defense systems and other weapons to Ukraine.

The defense capabilities of the Nordic region would be enhanced if the two joined NATO, allowing for joint defense planning within the framework of the alliance, Sweden’s defense minister said on local radio on Tuesday.

“(If Sweden and Finland join NATO), it will mean that we use each other’s strengths and advantages, that we fully complement each other and that we also do operational planning,” said Peter Hultqvist ruling Social Democrats.

“If so, the effect will be that we will become stronger together. This is something that can happen if we choose to join NATO.”

Sweden already has defense agreements with its Nordic neighbors.

The Social Democrats will decide on May 15 whether to drop decades of party opposition to NATO membership – a move that would almost certainly lead to Sweden applying to join the alliance.

Finland, which shares a 1,300 km border and a difficult past with neighboring Russia, is reconsidering its long-standing position to refrain from joining NATO in order to maintain friendly relations with its eastern neighbor.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto is expected to announce his support for a candidacy this week.

Denmark, Norway and Iceland are already members of NATO.