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In Sweden and Finland, Russia's Ukraine Invasion Builds the Case for NATO Membership

MIN READMar 11, 2022 | 18:30 GMT

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (center), Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (left) and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde (right) give a press conference after their meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Jan. 24, 2022.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (center), Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (left) and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde (right) give a press conference at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Jan. 24, 2022.

(JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images)

While Russia's invasion of Ukraine has reignited discussions in Sweden and Finland about NATO membership, political constraints make both countries more likely to boost cooperation with the Western Security alliance rather than join it, at least in the immediate term. For decades, the issue of joining NATO has been politically charged in Sweden and Finland, two neutral countries that have chosen not to follow most of Europe in entering the military alliance. Broadly speaking, conservative parties in both countries tend to support NATO membership, arguing that it would bring protection against potential Russian aggression, while progressive parties reject the idea for fear it could actually catalyze Russian retaliation. Sweden and Finland's cooperation with NATO is already very close; both countries are members of NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) program and participate in the alliance's Partnership Interoperability Initiative (PIP), which means they often contribute to NATO-led operations, missions and exercises. In...

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