Russia would ‘rebalance’ if Finland joins NATO says Peskov
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Public support for the western alliance has grown since the war broke out in February. Now, two more countries look set to join NATO, even if Ukraine’s desire to join sparked Russia’s invasion of the country.
Which countries will join NATO next?
Sweden and Finland have now started respective internal processes to join NATO.
Both countries are officially non-aligned militarily, but public support for NATO membership has almost doubled since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It is thought the respective processes could be complete by the end of summer 2022.
Both countries have received public assurances from the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, that their applications would be welcome.
They have also received a warm reception from other NATO countries like the UK, Germany, France and Turkey.
However, Russia has warned the two countries against joining the alliance.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that NATO “is not that kind of alliance which ensures peace and stability, and its further expansion will not bring additional security to the European continent”.
Why does Russia have an issue with NATO expansion?
The original aim of NATO was to counter the threat of post Cold War Russian expansion into Europe – but it has since developed multiple uses.
NATO first offered a path for Ukraine to join in 2008, but it is not a member of the security alliance.
Russia fears NATO is encroaching on its area of political influence by taking on new members from eastern Europe – and by signing Ukraine up, it would put the Western military power in President Putin’s backyard.
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Since the war broke out in February, Ukraine’s President Zelensky has accepted his country can’t join NATO currently.
He said: “It is clear that Ukraine is not a member of NATO. We understand this.”
Finland shares a 1,340km (830 miles) long border with Russia, and has been particularly rattled by the invasion of Ukraine.
The most recent member states to be added to NATO are Montenegro on 5 June 2017 and North Macedonia on 27 March 2020.
NATO currently has 30 member countries. These are:
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