Nato invites Sweden and Finland to join alliance in one of the biggest shifts in European security in decades
Nato has officially welcomed Finland and Sweden into the military alliance in a historic move for European security.
Turkey lifted its initial objections against the two formerly neutral countries becoming members, and they were officially invited on Wednesday.
“We have decided to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of Nato, and agreed to sign the Accession Protocols. The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, Nato stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure,” a statement released by Nato said.
The two Nordic nations abandoned their long-held nonaligned status earlier this year and applied to join Nato as protection against an increasingly aggressive and unpredictable Russia.
But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had threatened to block the Nordic pair, insisting they change their stance on Kurdish rebel groups that Turkey considers terrorists.
However, on Tuesday it was announced that a trilateral memorandum was signed between Turkey, Sweden and Finland.
Downing Street said Boris Johnson described the invitation for Sweden and Finland to join Nato as a “great step forward” for the alliance.
Following a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto at the Nato summit in Madrid, a Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister reiterated his staunch support for Sweden and Finland’s Nato membership aspirations.
“He described their accession as a great step forward for Nato and welcomed the progress made since his visits to Sweden and Finland last month.
“The Prime Minister said that the membership of two more pro-peace democracies will permanently strengthen our defensive alliance, helping to keep us all safe.
The British Prime Minister was praised for his “crucially important support” by Finland and Sweden.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden, whose country provides the bulk of Nato’s military power, vowed the summit would send "an unmistakable message ... that NATO is strong and united."
"We’re stepping up. We’re proving that Nato is more needed now than it ever has been," said Biden.
Ukraine praised Nato for taking a "clear-eyed stance" on Russia and for inviting Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance.
We welcome a clear-eyed stance on Russia, as well as accession for Finland and Sweden. An equally strong and active position on Ukraine will help to protect the Euro-Atlantic security and stability."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address to the Nato summit in Madrid that his country needed more advanced weapons and money to defend itself against Russia following its invasion on February 24.
Nato leaders agreed at the summit to formally treat Russia as the "most significant and direct threat to the allies’ security", according to a summit statement.