Preventing NATO expansion is one of Vladimir Putin’s primary justifications for invading Ukraine. The war appears likely to backfire on this front, as Finland and Sweden seriously consider joining the alliance. On April 13, Finnish officials said there would be immediate debate in Helsinki about applying for NATO membership. The same day, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that Finland would reach a final decision in the next few weeks, and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson confirmed that Sweden was also reevaluating its long-held neutrality, adding that everything changed when Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. The comments from both prime ministers indicate that neutrality is probably no longer an option, but but even if Russian forces had not invaded Ukraine, NATO membership was no longer unthinkable in the two countries. I have written more on this subject here.
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