Finland and Sweden have formally applied to join NATO, together.

In a formal ceremony in Brussels on Wednesday, the ambassadors to Finland and Sweden both submitted their countries’ applications to join to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

“I warmly welcome the requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest partners,“ Stoltenberg said. “All allies agree on the importance of NATO enlargement. We all agree that we must stand together, and we all agree that this is an historic moment which we must seize. This is a good day at a critical moment for our security.”

Security, of course, is the matter on everyone’s mind. Before Putin invaded Ukraine, he made blatant threats of violent retaliation if Ukraine was allowed to join NATO. No one has forgotten that he made identical threats regarding Finland and Sweden. He claims that his ultimatum is defensive, that Russia would not be safe with so many NATO-aligned countries on its border, but NATO has never made an aggressive move towards Russia, even now with his undeclared war racking up the war crimes.

While the world waits to see what his reaction to Finland and Sweden making their intentions firm will be, the U.S., Britain, and a few other NATO states have offered to provide security support to the two Nordic countries should Putin try to attack or destabilize them during the ratification process.

The process, which even expedited will take months, means that the applications must be considered by the 30 current member nations. Most nations have already signaled their intentions to approve the addition, with only Putin-aligned President Erdogan of Turkey expressing reservations. All current members must ratify the applications, but there are processes to work around an obstinate member.

Other countries which have expressed an interest in joining NATO include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Ireland, Moldova, Serbia, and of course, Ukraine.

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