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Neutral Finland, Sweden warm to idea of NATO membership

HELSINKI (AP) – Through the Cold War and the decades since, nothing could persuade Finns and Swedes that they would be better off joining NATO – until now.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has profoundly changed Europe’s security outlook, including for Nordic neutrals Finland and Sweden, where support for joining NATO has surged to record levels.

A poll commissioned by Finnish broadcaster YLE this week showed that, for the first time, more than 50 per cent of Finns support joining the Western military alliance. In neighbouring Sweden, a similar poll showed those in favour of NATO membership outnumber those against.

“The unthinkable might start to become thinkable,” tweeted former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, a proponent of NATO membership.

Neither country is going to join the alliance overnight. Support for NATO membership rises and falls, and there’s no clear majority for joining in their Parliaments.

Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto, (L) and his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde. PHOTO: AP

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