Finland and Sweden have arrived at the point of choice for their potential NATO candidacies, with a formal announcement likely in the next days, at least on the Finnish side.

Decisive weekend for Finland and Sweden on NATO

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the two Nordic nations find themselves at the gates of the Western military alliance, looking for a security umbrella - mostly from the United States - in the face of a Russian threat less than three months after the Russian invasion.

A researcher at the Finnish Institute of Sciences, Charly Salonius-Pasternak, told AFP that Finland is "100 percent certain" to become a candidate and that it is "very probable" to become a member by the end of the year. international affairs

The conflict in Ukraine, which was sparked by Moscow, radically shifted public opinion in Finland and Sweden, which had been very split up until that point in time.

Finland's national television station Yle conducted a survey on Monday and found that 76 percent of Finns are now in favour of joining NATO, a new high compared to former years when just 20-30 percent were.

Several signals of an anticipated declaration have appeared in both nations in recent days, after several weeks of intensive internal and international talks.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said on Sunday that the governing Social Democratic Party, which would have a comfortable majority in parliament if the country joined the EU, will declare its decision. In comparison to the original schedule, this is 10 days sooner.

In spite of the fact that Stockholm is more cautious than Helsinki, Elisabeth Braw, an expert in the defence of the Nordic nations at the American Enterprise Institute, believes that Sweden will submit a strong application and will "very likely" do so in conjunction with its neighbour.

The Swedish army, which has been taken aback by Finland's rapidity and has been used to evaluating its options for an extended period of time, is likewise interested in keeping up with the pace, in part because the Russian army is suffering on the Ukrainian front.

"It all came together perfectly."

In the past, the Swedish Social Democrats consistently stated: + we will ponder about it when Finland becomes a member of the EU +. According to Ms. Braw, "they did not join because they believed Finland would never join."

"The timing is ideal from a risk management perspective. As a result, Russia will be unable to counterattack or strike militarily since she is preoccupied elsewhere (in Ukraine) "The expert expressed his thoughts on the matter.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö is expected to release his "personal" view on the subject on Thursday, according to media reports in Helsinki. Also anticipated by Saturday, at the very latest, will be the Social Democratic Party of Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

In accordance with the newspaper Iltalehti, a crucial committee comprised of the two chiefs of the Finnish executive, as well as ministries, will convene on Sunday to reach a decision.

Responding to an inquiry from AFP, the Finnish government declined to comment, stating that the dates of the committee's meetings were being kept under seal.

An all-out war waged by Vladimir Putin in retaliation for NATO's intention to expand eastward would, as a result, have the immediate effect of forcing two more European nations to become members of the Alliance.

With Finland's accession to NATO, the alliance's land border with Russia would be doubled, reaching around 2,600 kilometres.

The repeated threats from Moscow about the "political and military" repercussions of membership, as well as the possibility of sending troops, including nuclear weapons, to the Baltic Sea, have had the opposite effect in recent weeks, bolstering Swedish-Finnish resolve.

Reserve National Guard soldiers have been mobilised for a month on the Swedish island of Gotland, which is strategically located in the centre of the Baltic Sea. The activation coincides with significant yearly military exercises in Finland and Sweden, which will take place next week.

A large force for a nation with just 5.5 million people, Finland has 12,000 professional troops but 21,000 conscripts a year and a wartime army of 280,000 men. It also has very strong artillery and sixty combat aircraft.

Sweden has a modern army that already fulfils NATO requirements, despite the fact that the post-Cold War era was characterised by significant disinvestment and downsizing. In addition, the country has reached the pinnacle of its arms industry.

Despite the fact that they are not yet members of the alliance, the two nations have already made significant strides in abandoning their historical neutrality and becoming more integrated into it, at least militarily.

"We are seeing a tremendous movement in thinking and from a political standpoint, but this is not the case militarily, for the simple reason that they are already extremely near to NATO," Ms. Shaw emphasises.

Following their time in concubinage, they are planning to marry NATO, as she points out.
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