On Wednesday, May 18, the Ambassadors of Finland and Sweden handed over to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg applications for their countries to join the Alliance. Currently, the military bloc includes 30 countries, the last one to join it was North Macedonia in March 2020.
The impetus for taking such a decision by the hitherto neutral countries was Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The day before, on May 17, the Finnish parliament voted in favor of joining NATO by 188 votes against 8. On the same day, the application for joining the military bloc was signed by Ann Linde, head of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Now applications from Finland and Sweden will be considered under the procedure by the Alliance Council. After that, they must be ratified by all 30 member states of the bloc. How many countries will be in NATO in the coming years now depends on Turkey's stance.
According to Bloomberg, the Turkish side has voiced its requirements, according to them it will give its permission for Sweden and Finland to join in the bloc. This refers to their recognition of the Kurdistan Workers' Party as a terrorist organization; obtaining a new batch of F-16 fighters by Ankara and re-including it in the F-35 fighter supply program.
NATO countries, taking into account Russia’s war in Ukraine, are holding a number of large-scale drills in 2022. Finland and Sweden are also invited to participate in a number of them.
Context. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier that if applications were submitted, Sweden and Finland would be promptly and easily admitted to the Alliance.
We have also reported that Ukraine has a chance to become a NATO member without fulfilling the Membership Action Plan, like Finland and Sweden, because this is not a mandatory part of the procedure. Hungary previously stated that they would not block Ukraine's accession to NATO and the EU.