Sweden and Finland are on track to join NATO as Russia and China focus on their allies

On Wednesday, Sweden and Finland looked set to join NATO soon after Turkey lifted its veto on their membership, while concerns over Russia and China push the US-led alliance to approve a broader strategy for the next decade.

After talks in Madrid, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday agreed with his Finnish and Swedish counterparts on a series of security measures to allow the two Nordic countries to move forward in their bid to join the alliance led by by the United States. “We will take the decision at the summit to invite Sweden and Finland to become members,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said of the two countries, which overturned decades of neutrality to ask join the alliance in mid-May.

While the deal has removed a major hurdle for Nordic nations to join, their application now needs to be approved by member state parliaments, a process that could take some time. Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine gave new momentum to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after setbacks in Afghanistan and internal divisiveness under former US President Donald Trump .

“We are very happy that they are joining NATO and we hope that the final decision will be taken today,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said as he arrived on the first official day of the summit, which began Tuesday evening with dinner at the Royal Palace Spanish restaurant and is about to agree on NATO’s first new strategic concept – its master plan document – in a decade. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, host of the summit, told Cadena Ser radio on Wednesday that Russia would be identified as NATO’s “main threat” in the strategic concept. Russia was previously classified as a NATO strategic partner.

The planning document will also cite China as a challenge for the first time, setting the stage for the 30 allies to plan to manage Beijing’s transformation from a benign trading partner into a fast-growing Arctic competitor in cyberspace. “MORE NATO”

Unlike Russia, whose war in Ukraine has raised serious concerns in the Baltics of an attack on NATO territory, China is not an adversary, NATO leaders have said. But Stoltenberg has repeatedly called on Beijing to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation”. The Western alliance is also set to agree that major allies such as the United States, Germany, Britain and Canada will pre-commit troops, weapons and equipment to the Baltics and will intensify the training exercises. NATO also aims to have up to 300,000 troops ready for deployment in the event of conflict, as part of an expanded NATO Response Force.

For NATO, Russia is achieving the opposite of what its President Vladimir Putin was aiming for when he launched his war in Ukraine in part to counter the expansion of the NATO alliance, Western leaders say. Finland, which has a 1,300 km (810 mile) border with Russia, and Sweden, the country of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, are now ready to integrate well-trained military personnel into the alliance, with the aim to give NATO superiority in the Baltic. Sea.

“One of President Putin’s most important messages … was that he was against any further NATO expansion,” Stoltenberg said on Tuesday evening. “He wanted less NATO. Now President Putin has more NATO on his borders.”

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Denise W. Whigham