Finland and Sweden formally submit bids to join NATO

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join the NATO alliance on Wednesday at allied headquarters, Reuters reports.

“This is a historic moment, which we must seize,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at a short ceremony in which the Swedish and Finnish ambassadors to the alliance handed over their application letters, each in a white folder embossed with their national flag.

“I warmly welcome requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest partners, and your membership in NATO will increase our shared security,” Stoltenberg said. The alliance considers that the accession of Finland and Sweden would hugely strengthen it in the Baltic Sea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday warned that the expansion of NATO might trigger a response.

However, the main obstacle to Finland and Sweden’s membership comes from within the alliance.

Turkey claims that both Sweden and Finland have provided a refuge for terrorist groups and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists Ankara will not approve the expansion.

Any bid to join NATO must be agreed upon by all 30 members of the alliance.

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