Rattled By Russia, Finland And Sweden Revisit NATO Debate

Rattled by Russia, Finland and Sweden revisit NATO debate

Helsinki, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 28th Jan, 2022 ) :The threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine has reignited debate in Finland and Sweden over whether they should join NATO to fend off any possible eastern aggression.

Fighter jets could be heard carrying out drills above the Finnish capital this week, while Sweden recently deployed troops to a Baltic outpost in response to rising tensions.

President Vladimir Putin's demands that NATO not expand eastwards have also led Finnish and Swedish leaders to loudly reassert their right to apply for membership should they wish.

"It's for Finland and 30 NATO allies to decide, finally, on the issue of membership, and that's exactly the same for Sweden," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday after meeting the countries' foreign ministers.

Neither Finland nor Sweden have expressed an official desire to become full members, preferring instead information sharing and some joint training.

But Charly Salonius-Pasternak, from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, said Finland and Sweden had made "a conscious effort... to get explicit statements that NATO's open-door policy is still open".

Elina Valtonen, vice-chair of Finland's opposition National Coalition Party, said joining was "a natural step".

"We have been forming ever-closer cooperation agreements not only with NATO, but also the United Kingdom and the United States," Valtonen said.

She added that Finland had long abandoned its Cold War stance of seeking to appease the Kremlin by remaining neutral.