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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 2, 2014 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

For NATO, Benefits of Adding Finland and Sweden Outweigh Costs

Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

Cold War-era fears are resurfacing in northeastern Europe. Over the past year, Russian aircraft have violated the air space of nearly all Nordic and Baltic countries at a worrying rate, while this past fall, Sweden hunted for a suspected Russian submarine thought to be lurking in the waters off Stockholm. Those Russian provocations, along with the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, have recharged debates in Finland and Sweden over joining NATO.

In Finland, which shares an 800-mile border with Russia, Prime Minister Alexander Stubb responded to a question in September about the possibility of his country joining NATO by saying, “We should have become a member in 1995 when we joined the EU.” In October, meanwhile, a poll found for the first time ever that more Swedes favored joining NATO than opposed it. And just last week, when Poland’s minister of defense called Russia’s military activity in the Baltic Sea region “unprecedented” after Russia flew heavy long-range bombers in the area, he noted that Sweden seemed singled out for special attention by Russian warplanes. ...

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