Iceland, Denmark and Norway have offered security guarantees to Finland and Sweden if either come under attack, after Stockholm said it would follow Helsinki in requesting membership in the NATO bloc.
On Monday, the three European states said they would do everything possible to “ensure a swift accession process” for the new applicants, while also vowing to take action on their behalf in the event of an attack.
“Finland and Sweden’s security is a matter of common concern to us all. Should Finland or Sweden be victims of aggression on their territory before obtaining NATO membership, we will assist Finland and Sweden by all means necessary,” the joint statement said.
Helsinki declared on Sunday that it had submitted an official membership application, after hinting it would do so for several weeks, citing Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Stockholm followed suit just one day later, agreeing to end a policy of neutrality that endured for nearly two centuries.
The three-way pledge from Copenhagen, Oslo and Reykjavík goes beyond previous assurances given by other NATO members. The UK has promised to assist Finland and Sweden’s defense, while Stockholm said it received similar security assurances from Washington earlier this month. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, meanwhile, said the alliance will deploy more assets to the Baltics to deter any attack from Moscow.
In April, the Kremlin warned that the Nordic states’ membership in the western military bloc would lead to nuclear proliferation in the region, suggesting it could respond with new missile deployments in the Baltics.
“If Sweden and Finland join NATO, the length of the alliance’s land borders with the Russian Federation will more than double. Naturally, these borders will have to be strengthened,” said Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council.
On Monday, however, President Vladimir Putin appeared to scale back those comments, saying Moscow “has no problems” with Stockholm or Helsinki, and that their membership itself “does not pose a direct threat to Russia.” The Kremlin will only respond to “the expansion of military infrastructure” into either country, the Russian leader said, adding “We will see what it will be based on the threats that will be created for us.”
The aspiring NATO states have voiced concerns about a Russian attack before they are brought under the alliance’s collective security pact. NATO has promised to expedite the membership process, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said he is “confident” the two Nordic states would get the approval of all 30 members. Unanimous support is required for the addition of new states.
Turkey, however, has voiced stiff opposition to the new membership bids, citing the alleged presence of terrorist groups in both countries. Though officials will soon travel to Ankara to address those objections, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan indicated they will meet little success during a recent press conference.
“Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organization. How can we trust them?” he said. “They are coming to Turkey on Monday. Are they coming to convince us? Excuse me but they should not tire themselves.”