Amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis, the nordic countries of Finland & Sweden have started the process of joining the NATO military alliance.
According to the reports and sources of Iltalehti (tabloid newspapers of Finland) and Expressen of Sweden, next month, both the countries will together be expressing their wish to become NATO members.
After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the two Nordic countries expanded their relations and cooperation with the military alliance, but they still opted to remain committed to their long-standing ideology of military neutrality. However, it seems that the recent Russian attack on Ukraine has forced both countries to rethink their national security and defence strategy.
Here comes the NATO, an alliance which seems to be the only option for these small European countries like Sweden and Finland. Both of them have none to minuscule military strength. They just can't face a military power like Russia.
Ukraine's not being a NATO member was the major reason why NATO was unable to help the former USSR state during the Russian attack. Ukraine's situation in the current conflict would have been completely different if it was a NATO member.
Seeing what Russia did in Ukraine, and the helplessness & compulsion of NATO on the conflict due to Ukraine not being a NATO member, are the reasons which seem to be pushing the two nordic countries toward NATO membership.
According to the local sources, the leaders of both the countries will be meeting next month, after which they will publically announce their plans about joining the alliance.
Citing sources close to the Swedish government, Aftonbladet (a Swedish daily) reported that the US and UK had promised Sweden's government about increased & strengthened military presence, closer military cooperation & joint exercises, and a strong political & diplomatic support from all the NATO member states during the NATO application process.
Well, what needs to be seen is the reaction of Russia to this development. The matter is sure to affect the ongoing conflict in Europe. The expansion of NATO towards the Russian borders was the reason Putin attacked Ukraine. NATO's military presence or expansion on the borders of Russia is what irritates Putin. In the case of the two nordic countries, Finland is also a neighbour of Russia, sharing the land border. Thus, the inclusion of Finland into NATO might also poke and irritate Russia, which may further give rise to a crisis if not a war between Russia and Finland.