US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed the intention of the American side to maintain a military presence in the Baltic Sea region, as well as conduct exercises there. He made the corresponding statement on May 27 during a joint press conference with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.
“The US will also remain active in the exercise and maintain a presence in the Baltic Sea region,” Blinken said.
In addition, the Secretary of State said that he was confident that Finland and Sweden would soon be accepted into the ranks of the members of the North Atlantic Alliance. These two states “meet the democratic, military, economic criteria for membership,” he said.
At the same time, a member of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Dmitry Belik, told Izvestia that Sweden and Finland should not forget that joining NATO imposes certain obligations and risks of participating in military conflicts. At the same time, he added that Moscow would not be indifferent to the process of expanding the North Atlantic Alliance if security threats arise.
In addition, as Timofei Bordachev, program director of the Valdai Club and research director of the HSE Central Research Institute of Economics, explained in an interview with Izvestia on Friday, the process of Sweden and Finland joining the North Atlantic Alliance may be very delayed or not take place at all. The expert noted the importance of the question whether Stockholm will be able to seriously revise its long-term domestic policy in order to join NATO.
Earlier in the day, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Sweden and Finland were unlikely to be candidates for membership in the upcoming summit if Turkey’s demands were not met before it began. He assured that he would try to accompany Turkey’s negotiations with Sweden and Finland.
At the same time, military expert Viktor Litovkin noted to Izvestia that with the entry of Sweden and Finland into the North Atlantic Alliance, the NATO military contingent in Europe will increase, since it is formed from the armies of the member states of the bloc. He called NATO’s statement that the alliance does not intend to increase the number of its troops as cunning.
On May 24, a group of American congressmen pointed out to US President Joe Biden the need to admit Sweden and Finland to the North Atlantic Alliance as soon as possible. A collective letter was sent to the office of the head of state.
Sweden and Finland officially applied to join NATO on 18 May. The ambassadors of the two countries handed them over to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at headquarters in Brussels.
On May 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin, during the anniversary summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, noted that NATO expansion is artificial.