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Amid Ukraine Crisis, Sweden, Finland Face Increasing Pressure to Join NATO

Monday, May 5, 2014

In the wake of the Ukraine crisis, Finland and Sweden are facing increasing pressure to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as full members. While the NATO debate has been simmering in both countries for some time, especially after Russian bombers practiced attacks against targets in Sweden in an exercise during Easter last year, Stockholm and Helsinki are now being encouraged to seriously consider membership by their Nordic and Baltic neighbors, as well as the United States.

NATO leaders and security experts believe that the Ukraine crisis has exposed a real vulnerability on NATO’s northern flank, where Sweden and Finland constitute a “gray area” without collective security agreements, in a region close to the Baltic states, currently some of NATO’s weakest and most exposed members. Swedish and Finnish NATO membership would politically solidify NATO’s northern flank, while also opening up a range of new options for NATO, and the U.S., in defending the Baltic states in case of a crisis in the region. To boot, some relish the opportunity to show Moscow that Russia’s aggressive behavior in Ukraine, and in Georgia in 2008, led to “more NATO” near Russia’s borders, not less. ...

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