Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously warned against the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) from expanding its realm of influence towards Moscow, and has strongly opposed Sweden signing up to the military pact. Regardless, it appears his warnings have not been heeded as the nation is expected to soon apply for membership.
Should officials from Stockholm decide to pursue joining NATO, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reassured that Britain would “provide assistance” if the country was to be attacked by Russia.
Mr Johnson told reporters: “The declaration makes it clear, it’s upon request of Sweden [that] the UK will of course provide assistance.
“What matters primarily is what Sweden decides to request.”
But if Sweden or another NATO member was attacked how exactly would the UK respond?
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According to Article 5 of NATO’s official charter, the UK would have to come to the aid of a country with membership status if it was attacked.
What that would exactly constitute remains to be seen, but it would likely involve Britain committing members of its armed forces to the battlefield.
Explaining what Article 5 involves, NATO said: “The principle of collective defence is at the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty.
“It remains a unique and enduring principle that binds its members together, committing them to protect each other and setting a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance.”
Since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, public support for both countries to join NATO has rocketed.
Support in Finland for joining NATO had for years floated at around 20 to 25 percent.
But according to the latest opinion poll, it now stands at a record high of 76 percent, while in Sweden, 57 percent of the population want to join, again far higher than before the war.
Although Finland and Sweden are not yet members of the alliance, they have both signed up to its Partnership for Peace programme.
The format allows for flexible co-operation between the two parties and is generally seen as a trust-building outfit that may eventually lead to a full membership.
On Thursday, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto will set out his position for NATO, and the ruling parties of both countries will say what they think over the weekend.
If both opt for membership status, then they will each have clear majorities in favour of membership, and the application process can begin.
While the Finnish Social Democrats are likely to be in favour, Sweden’s Social Democrats have been split on the issue, and are currently holding an internal consultation.