Finland is said to be just days away from announcing its application for NATO membership, following on Tuesday the country's defense committee issuing formal recommendation to do so as the "best option" guaranteeing its national security.
Finnish foreign affairs minister Pekka Haavisto described the rapid timeline as follows to CNBC: "When all our political parties are ready — and the latest, the Social Democrats on Saturday — then we are ready to move as [a] government forward and then this discussion, of course, on the NATO membership, will come to the Parliament, starting probably next Monday. But then we are, after that, ready to send an application."
Since the issue last month became a hot topic of national debate and discussion for both Finland and Sweden in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine - both which have historically remained neutral while seeking to pursue friendly relations with Moscow - the Scandinavian countries have vowed to coordinate their potential NATO applications.
Sweden was much more out front in declaring its intent to join; however, Finland shares an 810-mile border with Russia, making the prospect of NATO membership much more dangerous, given that in response the Kremlin has said it would build up its nuclear presence in the Baltic region.
FM Haavisto this week explained further of both countries seeking admission: "I’ve been really much in favor of us [Finland and Sweden] joining together and now it looks like we have a parallel process, which could end in a similar way," he told CNBC. Haavisto underscored both would submit application at "around the same time".
Last month there were widespread international reports strongly suggesting the applications would be announced in mid-May. This would ready the Western alliance for intense discussions to follow, crucially ahead of a major NATO summit set for June, and hosted in Madrid. "But even prior to that, the NATO Council certainly will discuss this matter and we are also expecting that single NATO member states will give their commitments and opinions immediately when Finland and Sweden will send an application," the Finnish foreign minister said further.
Finland and Sweden have already received such promises of support for entry from Washington, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a meeting last week with Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde saying the US is "ready to provide various forms of security assurances."
As Finland considers NATO membership, citizens mobilize for an invasion by Russiahttps://t.co/mh8GAgl0Y8— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) May 2, 2022
Without doubt this makes the increasing proxy war nature of the conflict in Ukraine all the more dangerous in terms of the potential for escalation into an eventual Russia and NATO-wide conflict.
However, the process itself of becoming formal NATO members would likely take multiple months for Finland and Sweden, also as the 30 alliance members would have to approve it. Given the current war could easily spread outside Ukraine's borders with such a move by Brussels, it's likely going to give even some of the more hawkish NATO member states pause in the "rush" for membership - especially those European countries geographically closest to Russia.