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NATO invites Finland, Sweden to join

NATO invited Sweden and Finland on Wednesday to join the military alliance in one of the biggest shifts in European security in decades after Helsinki and Stockholm dropped their traditional neutrality.

“Today, we have decided to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO,” NATO leaders said in their declaration, after Turkey lifted a veto on Finland and Sweden joining.

Ratification in allied parliaments is likely to take up to a year, but once it is done, Finland and Sweden will be covered by NATO’s Article 5 collective defence clause, putting them under the United States’ protective nuclear umbrella.

“We will make sure we are able to protect all allies, including Finland and Sweden,” Stoltenberg said, Reuters reports.

In the meantime, the allies are set to increase their troop presence in the Nordic region, holding more military exercises and naval patrols in the Baltic Sea to reassure Sweden and Finland.

After four hours of talks in Madrid on Tuesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed with his Finnish and Swedish counterparts a series of security measures to allow the two Nordic countries to overcome the Turkish veto that Ankara imposed in May due to its concerns about terrorism.

The Western alliance is also in agreement that big allies such as the United States, Germany, Britain, and Canada pre-assign troops, weapons, and equipment to the Baltics and intensify training exercises. NATO is also aiming to have as many as 300,000 troops ready for deployment in case of conflict, part of an enlarged NATO response force. read more

Both Finland and Sweden are now set to bring well-trained militaries into NATO, aimed at giving the alliance Baltic Sea superiority.

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