The expansion of NATO in the Baltics looks set to take place in the New Year presenting a national-security headache for Vladimir Putin. Sweden and Finland dropped their longstanding policies of military nonalignment this year and decided to apply to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
General Jens Stoltenberg is reported to have said that Sweden and Finland are expected to officially join NATO in the coming year.
The move requires the unanimous approval of the alliance’s current 30 members.
Turkey has held up the process while pressing the two Nordic countries to crack down on groups it considers to be terrorist organizations and to extradite people suspected of terror-related crimes.
The parliaments of 28 NATO countries have already ratified Sweden and Finland’s membership. Turkey and Hungary are the only members that haven’t yet given their approval.
It comes as Putin said in a state television interview, excerpts of which were released on Sunday afternoon that Russia is “prepared to negotiate some acceptable outcomes with all the participants of this process.”
He said that “it’s not us who refuse talks, it’s them” — something the Kremlin has repeatedly stated in recent months as its 10-month-old invasion kept losing momentum.
Putin also repeated that Moscow has “no other choice” and said he believed the Kremlin was “acting in the right direction.”
He said: “We’re defending our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people.”
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