SALZBURG, Austria – Finland and Sweden need to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) while Russian Putin focuses on Ukraine, said the former head of the alliance CNBC.
The the two northern countries considered joining NATO followed by Unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine. Becoming a NATO member would mean a sharp turn in their policy toward the Kremlin after years of neutrality. Finland and Sweden are due to announce their plans in the coming days.
“As for Finland and Sweden, I think there is a window of opportunity here [the] the two countries will join right now because Putin is concerned about the other. There is nothing he can do about it, “Anders Rasmussen, a former NATO secretary general, told CNBC on Saturday.
Russia has repeatedly stated its opposition to NATO enlargement, citing one of the reasons for its invasion of Ukraine.
In addition, the Kremlin also said that if Stockholm and Helsinki join the alliance, it will need to “balance the situation.”
It is unclear how the Kremlin will react if both countries move forward with their membership.
However, their accession will double the current NATO-Russia border and significantly add more military power to the alliance.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has previously said both countries would be warmly welcomed.
But it could be “several months” before their membership becomes official, Rasmussen told CNBC.
“Even if it is seen as an urgent procedure, and it is, it will take several months because you have to go through 30 parliaments before it can be ratified across NATO,” he said.
NATO currently has 30 members, including the United States.
“It will take several months, and during this period, both Finland and Sweden could potentially be intimidated or even threatened by Russia, so we must ensure their security,” Rasmussen said, “as if they were already members of NATO.”
These security guarantees would have to come from individual NATO members, as the famous Alliance Article 5 – which states that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all – will apply to Finland and Sweden only after their applications have been ratified. all 30 countries. NATO members.
Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has led to a change in Europe’s defense policy. The countries announced much higher spending on their military capabilities, sent weapons to Ukraine, and – in the case of Finland and Sweden – this led to greater public support for NATO membership.
“You also need to understand Swedish and Finnish [potential] decisions were a message that there are no neutral countries on the border with Russia. And this is a new reality, even during the Cold War it was not, ”political analyst Ivan Krastev told CNBC on Friday.
“Before [Russia’s invasion of Ukraine] it was unclear what the difference was between a NATO member and just members of the United States. It is now clear that being a member of NATO is the fifth article, and being only a member of the United States is not. That is why Finland and Sweden should move from friends to members, ”he added.
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