Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Finland and Sweden not to join NATO, but both countries are edging closer to the military alliance even so. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said a decision on whether to apply is expected "within weeks," the BBC reports, and if Finland decides to apply, Sweden is even more likely to follow suit, the New York Times reports. Both are widely expected to do just that, and NATO is expected to accept their applications quickly (likely by late June at a summit meeting), though the process of ratifying their membership could take up to a year. While both countries have long been militarily nonaligned, Russia's invasion of Ukraine has turned public opinion in favor of joining the treaty organization, which views an attack on one member state as an attack on all.
While Finland, which shares an 830-mile border with Russia, has an option in its security doctrine to join NATO if circumstances change, Sweden does not, and its minority government just confirmed a formal position of military nonalignment in November. However, the two countries are each other's closest defense partners, so one joining without the other could be risky for the one left behind. In Sweden, about half of people favor joining, and that increases to 62% if Finland joins. (In Finland, 68% favor joining, or 77% if the president and government recommend it.) Another option: Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has also discussed a bilateral or trilateral security guarantee with the US and the UK; the US already has a defense cooperation agreement with Sweden and Finland, which could be expanded. (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)