Nato allies: Who wants to join Nato?

Ian Blackford squares off with Greens over NATO membership

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Vladimir Putin’s now months-long campaign in Ukraine is not winding down as Ukrainian soldiers continue to fight off troops advancing over the Russian border. Fighters have established an iron-clad defence with assistance from NATO countries, utilising an arsenal of high-tech weaponry shipped from the west. The Kremlin has pressed for Ukraine’s neutrality, but in trying to force this from Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration, it has persuaded others into the alliance’s arms.

Which countries want to join NATO?

NATO started as a post-war alliance of 12 world powers in 1944, with the UK, US, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Norway, Luxembourg, Iceland, Denmark and Belgium among founders.

Since then, NATO has added another 18 countries to a total of 30 but has caused friction in Europe, where most members reside.

Russia has a longstanding issue with the alliance, which it believes has crept too far to the east and threatens its territorial sovereignty.

The prospect of another western military conclave in Ukraine featured in Putin’s reasoning for his invasion and has seen his administration level threats at other nations considering a similar track.

Officials have branded the alliance a “tool geared towards confrontation” and threatened potential conscripts with “military and political consequences”.

Those remarks were directed at Sweden and Finland in early April and caused support for NATO membership amongst residents of both countries to explode almost overnight.

As of April 27, up to 68 percent of Finns want to join the alliance, while 51 percent Swedish residents also favour membership.

Earlier this week, Nordic publications claimed that both countries’ leaders would submit applications together.

Finish daily newspaper Iltalehti reported that Stockholm suggested the countries “indicate their willingness to join” on the same day.

The publication added that Helsinki had agreed, provided that the Swedish Government had “made its decision”.

Swedish newspaper Expressen claimed Government sources had confirmed the report after the Russian invasion “dramatically shaped” the Nordic mindset.

The reports followed assurances from Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin that her Government would seek to join NATO in “weeks, not months”, while her Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson also signalled a desire to join.

Adding Finland to NATO ranks alone would provide the alliance with an additional 810 miles on Russia’s doorstep, something the Kremlin claims would force it to shore up its Baltic defences.

Their accession to fully-fledged members would see Sweden and Finland trade in their current partnership with the organisation.

NATO partners share intelligence and occasionally conduct joint exercises, and Sweden and Finland are two of more than a dozen in Europe.

The two Nordic countries are part of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), which also includes:

  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Georgia
  • Ireland
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyz Republic
  • Malta
  • Moldova
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan

Authorities in a separatist-controlled region of NATO partner Moldova – where interest in membership is gaining momentum – named Transnistria recently reported explosions on their land.

A series of blasts along the region’s border with Ukraine first reported on April 26 destroyed radio antennas on Russian-garrisoned land.

Separatists blamed the attacks on Ukrainian soldiers, but Kyiv branded them a Russian false-flag operation.

Approximately 1,500 Russian troops reside in the area, which has hosted a conflict between separatists and the Moldovan armed forces since the 1990s.

Moldovan president Maia Sandu chaired a meeting of her security council in which she claimed forces in Transnistria were “interested in destabilising the region”.

Analysts have likened the activity in the region to the attacks preceding Russia’s heightened troop presence in the separatist Donbas region of Ukraine.

Drawing troops stationed in Transnistria into the conflict would put an additional fighting force to Ukraine’s west, near Odesa.

Control of the port city would give Russia a tactical foothold near the Black Sea.

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