The path to NATO membership for Finland and Sweden has been cleared as Turkey gives its nod.
What has changed?
Istanbul had previously opposed the two countries, accusing them of aiding Turkish rebels. But a joint security agreement that addressed Turkey’s concerns was reached by the foreign ministers of the three nations. And according to Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg, Sweden has agreed to speed up its response to Turkish requests for the extradition of alleged militants. The two NATO applicants will also relax their ban on supplying arms to Turkey.
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What does this mean for the region?
The BBC’s Frank Gardner notes that Finland and Sweden are already sophisticated, pro-Western democracies with the military that are well-versed in functioning in the often difficult conditions of northern Europe. Once it is complete, their membership will increase the number of NATO members that border the Baltic Sea to eight. Russia’s two outlets in Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg will become more and more isolated, further fueling the Kremlin’s security concerns.