NATO chief says Turkey has agreed to let Sweden join alliance

NATO chief says Turkey has agreed to let Sweden join alliance

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Turkey’s president gave his approval for Sweden to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the alliance’s secretary general said, paving the way for NATO to complete a notable expansion launched in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had agreed to forward Sweden’s accession to the Turkish parliament “as soon as possible.” Erdogan had blocked Sweden’s NATO bid for more than a year but told NATO officials he would drop his objections after hours of meetings ahead of the alliance’s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

“President Erdogan has made it clear that they are also ready to ratify Sweden,” said Stoltenberg, speaking at a late-night news conference following a meeting with the Turkish leader, who wasn’t present on stage. “Completing Sweden’s accession to NATO is a historic step that benefits the security of all NATO allies at this critical time. It makes us all stronger and safer.”

The last-minute solution to the deadlock allows NATO to project unity in the face of Russian aggression. If Turkey allows Sweden to join NATO, it would also pave the way for an expansion across more than 1,000 miles of territory straddling the Baltic Sea, shifting the balance of power in northern Europe and creating a potential chokepoint for Russian warships and aircraft in the region.

Such an outcome would accomplish a key foreign-policy goal of President Biden, who has repeatedly called for Stockholm to join the alliance and applied pressure on Erdogan. The Biden administration has prodded Erdogan with the approval of a $20 billion sale of a new fleet of F-16 warplanes to Turkey.

Finland decided to join NATO earlier this year in conjunction with Sweden in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which raised concerns about European security.

The inclusion of both Sweden and Finland into NATO would add significant military heft to the alliance, including hundreds of warplanes and tanks and tens of thousands of soldiers. Both Nordic nations have deep insight into Russian thinking, having spent decades balancing a tricky relationship with Moscow. Both countries have been ideologically aligned with the West, including through membership of the European Union, while seeking not to antagonize Russia. [Continue reading…]

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