NATO officially invited Sweden and Finland to join its military alliance on Wednesday, a day after Turkey dropped its reservations over having the Nordic countries join the defense bloc.
“It demonstrates that President Putin has not succeeded in closing NATO’s door,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during the NATO summit in Madrid. “He is getting the opposite of what he wants. He wants less NATO; President Putin is getting more NATO by Finland and Sweden joining our Alliance. ”
“We’re sending an unmistakable message, in my view – and I think yours as well – that NATO is strong, united, and the steps we’re taking during this summit are going to further augment our collective strength,” President Biden concurred .
The invitation was immediately slammed by Russia, with one Kremlin official saying it was “a purely destabilizing factor,” according to CNBC.
The development comes against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, which has shifted Sweden’s and Finland’s attitudes about joining the military alliance. The two Nordic countries submitted their applications to join NATO last month.
Though many of NATO’s members expressed support for both countries to join the military alliance, Turkey raised objections, accusing Finland and Sweden of not being aggressive enough against a group that Turkey and other nations have designated as a terrorist group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party ( PKK.)
But Turkey withdrew its qualms on Tuesday after the countries signed a trilateral memorandum vowing to support one another against national security threats and to enhance counterterrorism cooperation.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Biden are anticipated to meet one-on-one sometime on Wednesday during the NATO summit in Madrid.
“In any accession to the Alliance, it is of vital importance that the legitimate security concerns of all Allies are properly addressed. We welcome the conclusion of the trilateral memorandum between Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden to that effect, ”read the declaration issued by NATO members during the summit.
“The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure. The security of Finland and Sweden is of direct importance to the Alliance, including during the accession process. ”