On Wednesday, NATO invited Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance in one of the biggest changes in European security in decades after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forced Helsinki and Stockholm to relinquish their traditional neutrality.
NATO’s 30 allies made the decision at its Madrid summit and also agreed to formally treat Russia as the “most significant and direct threat to the security of the allies”, according to a statement from the summit.
“Today, we have decided to invite Finland and Sweden to join NATO,” NATO leaders said in their declaration, after Turkey lifted a veto on Finland and Sweden’s accession.
However, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia viewed Sweden’s and Finland’s plans to join NATO “negatively”, Interfax reported.
The Russian state news agency RIA also quoted Ryabkov as saying that NATO’s expansion is “destabilizing” and does not increase security for allies. Ratification in Allied parliaments is likely to take up to a year, but once that is done, Finland and Sweden will be covered by NATO’s Article 5 collective defense clause, which puts them under the US umbrella’s protective umbrella umbrella.
“We will ensure that we can protect all allies, including Finland and Sweden,” Stoltenberg said.
In the meantime, the Allies will increase their troop presence in the Nordic region, hold more military exercises and naval patrols in the Baltic Sea to calm Sweden and Finland.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has agreed with his Finnish and Swedish counterparts on a series of security measures to enable the two Nordic countries to overcome the Turkish veto that Ankara introduced in May due to its concerns about terrorism.
Security steak up
NATO leaders are set to discuss plans to review and strengthen the alliance’s defense against Russian aggression in Europe, including the establishment of a new force model that would put some 300,000 troops on high alert to deal with possible future threats.
At the same time, the Russian ruble rose above 52 against the US dollar and reached a more than seven-year high on Tuesday as Russia’s capital controls and monthly taxes offset the negative effect of the West’s statement that the country has failed in its international bonds.
The ruble became the world’s highest performing currency in 2022, reinforced by Russia’s emergency measures taken to protect the country’s financial system from Western sanctions following the start of the Ukraine conflict on 24 February.
The ruble reached 50.6125 against the dollar in the Moscow trade for the first time since the end of May 2015.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded in 1949 to defend itself against the Soviet threat. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 gave the organization a new impetus after failures in Afghanistan and internal disagreement during the era of former US President Donald Trump.
“We are sending a strong message to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin: ‘You will not win,'” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a speech.
Allies also agreed on NATO’s first new strategic concept – its master plan document – in a decade. Russia, formerly classified as a strategic partner of NATO, is now identified as NATO’s main threat.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “a direct threat to our Western way of life”, added Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo, citing the wider impact of the war, such as rising energy and food prices.
The planning document also cited China as a challenge for the first time, setting the stage for the 30 allies to plan to deal with Beijing’s transformation from a benign trading partner to a fast-growing competitor from the Arctic to cyberspace.
Unlike Russia, whose war in Ukraine has raised serious concerns in the Baltics about an attack on NATO territory, China is not an opponent, NATO leaders said. But Stoltenberg has repeatedly called on Beijing to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow says is a “special operation.”