Sweden and Finland have formally submitted their applications to join Nato this morning.
The alliance’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg says it is “a historic moment, which we must seize”, adding that the Nordic countries’ membership would increase shared security.
The two nations’ leaders announced their intention to apply for membership of the defence alliance on Sunday, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Swedish parliament voted in favour on Monday, with Finland’s doing the same yesterday.
Finland shares a lengthy land and sea border with Russia. Both it and neighbouring Sweden remained neutral throughout the Cold War so their applications to join Nato mark a significant change in stance.
The process could be fast-tracked to only take a few weeks but would require the support of all 30 members, ratification of which could take up to a year. The Turkish government has voiced opposition.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson are due to meet US President Joe Biden at the White House tomorrow to discuss topics including the Nato applications, European security and support for Ukraine.