'Happy we’ve taken same path': Swedish PM on country's joint NATO bid with Finland

  • Finland, which was invaded by the then Soviet Union in 1939 - the same year when Germany's invasion of Poland started the Second World War, shares a 1,300-km border with Russia. Sweden shares a maritime boundary with Russia.
Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson (R) and Finland's President Sauli Niinisto (L) hold a joint news conference in Stockholm, Sweden May 17, 2022. (TT News Agency/Anders Wiklund via REUTERS)
Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson (R) and Finland's President Sauli Niinisto (L) hold a joint news conference in Stockholm, Sweden May 17, 2022. (TT News Agency/Anders Wiklund via REUTERS)
Updated on May 17, 2022 11:50 PM IST
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Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Sohini Goswami, New Delhi

Nordic countries Sweden and Finland will jointly submit their applications to join the US-led military alliance North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on Wednesday amid a threat from Turkey and a veiled warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During a joint press conference on Tuesday, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto announced their decision to submit their NATO bids together.

“I'm happy we have taken the same path and we can do it together,” Andersson was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.

Niinisto alongside Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin had announced earlier that the country will officially bid to become a member of NATO. On the same day, Sweden's ruling Social Democratic Party announced their consent for the country to apply for a membership of the military alliance. On Monday, Andersson said Sweden will follow Finland's move in officially submitting an application to become a part of the US-led military alliance.

Finland, which was invaded by the then Soviet Union in 1939 - the same year when Germany's invasion of Poland started the Second World War, shares a 1,300-km border with Russia. Sweden shares a maritime boundary with Russia.

The two Nordic nations have remained non-aligned throughout the entire Cold War period, and have in the past opposed the prospect of becoming NATO members. However, both Niinisto and Andersson have cited security as the reason behind their NATO aspirations. This comes in the backdrop of the Ukraine war that began after Russia invaded the east-European country on Putin's order on February 24. Currently in its third month, the war is the biggest of its kind in an European nation since the Second World War and has created a renewed refugee influx in the continent.

Finland and Sweden's leaders continue to remain unfettered by the barrage of warnings that Russia has been sending their way. On Monday, Putin brushed aside any possibility of NATO's Nordic expansion becoming a concern for his country as he said that it does not pose any “immediate threat” to Russia. The Russian President also said that Moscow “does not have problems” with Finland and Sweden becoming NATO members.

He, however, warned that if the alliance bolsters the military infrastructure in the territories of its new Nordic members then Russia will give a “response”. Putin did not mention what kind of response NATO can expect, saying that it will depend on the nature of threats.

US President Joe Biden, meanwhile, will host Andersson and Niinisto at the White House for a meeting on Thursday. In a statement, the White House said the global leaders will discuss the Nordic countries' NATO bids as well as European security broadly.

(With agency inputs)

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