Map: What will NATO look like with Finland and Sweden included? Source: AL JAZEERA

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Finland and Sweden have formally applied for membership of the 30-member military alliance.

18 May 2022

Finland and Sweden have formally submitted applications to join NATO, the world’s most powerful military alliance, in a move that will redraw the geopolitical map of northern Europe.

The decisions by the two historically neutral countries come in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its 84th day.

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However, in order for the Nordic countries to join the 30-member alliance, all other NATO members must unanimously agree to admit them.

While Turkey has expressed reservations against their joining, Ankara is not expected to stand in their way.

NATO history and eastward expansion

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was founded in 1949 by 12 member states – Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States – and was established to curb Soviet expansion and encourage political integration in Europe in the aftermath of World War II.

The 30-member alliance is meant to guarantee political and military protections, and allow European and North American nations to discuss security concerns.

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