Most notable among these countries are Sweden and Finland. Both countries are known for their neutral foreign policy stances over the last few decades.
However, recent geopolitical developments have made these countries entertain the idea of joining NATO.
In order to join NATO, prospective candidates must receive unanimous support from NATO member states.
The U.S. government promised in a statement released on May 4, 2022 that it would support Sweden’s application for NATO membership by stating that it would maintain an “open-door policy.”
Back on May 4, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde had a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in Washington DC where they talked about NATO’s commitment to adding new members to its alliance structure.
“Blinken underscored the importance of the Transatlantic relationship to European security and reaffirmed our commitment to NATO’s Open Door policy,” U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price declared in a press release.
Price also noted that Blinken gave thanks to Sweden for its “extensive humanitarian and security assistance” to Ukraine.
According to a report by Lorenz Duchamps at The Epoch Times, the release did not reveal what assurances Blinken gave Linde.
The US’s statement of support for Sweden’s NATO membership application came on the same day as British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace declared that the UK would come to Finland’s aid if Russia were to attack it. Wallace made this promise to Finland regardless of whether Finland is a member of NATO or not.
“Naturally, I’m not going to go into any details, but I feel very sure that now we have an American assurance,” Linde said to a Swedish TV outlet after her meeting with Blinken, according to a Reuters report. “However, not concrete security guarantees, those you can only get if you are a full member of NATO,” she continued.
Finland and Sweden are NATO partners, but not full-fledged members of the alliance. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin would later announce on May 12 their desire for Finland to join NATO.
Russia has not been happy with talks of Finland and Sweden potentially joining NATO. Russia has even threatened to use nuclear weapons in its European exclave of Kaliningrad if Sweden and Finland join NATO.
Though a major wrench has likely been thrown into Finland’s and Sweden’s plan to join NATO with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announcing on May 13 that Turkey will not support the Nordic countries’ bid for NATO membership. Erdogan cited the alleged presence of “terrorist organizations” in the two countries’ as the principal reason for Turkey’s plan to oppose their NATO memberships.
The security assurances that the UK and the US have given to Finland and Sweden likely point to the two Anglo powers’ lack of confidence in the Nordic countries being accepted into NATO in a timely manner.
Time will tell if the two Nordic countries join NATO. However, there remains doubts about countries like the UK and US being able to credibly protect Sweden and Finland from external actors such as Russia.
One thing is clear though: Cold War 2.0 is well underway and the next few decades will be filled with intense security competition on the European continent.