NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ‘aims’ to bring Finland and Sweden into the military alliance ‘soon’ despite Turkey’s objections, but has warned he ‘cannot guarantee’ a quick schedule.
Speaking at a POLITICO event on Wednesday, the NATO chief indicated that while negotiations between the three countries are still ongoing, no solution has yet been found, less than a week before the start of the long-awaited summit in Madrid.
“My goal is always to make sure they [Sweden and Finland] can join soon,” Stoltenberg said. “I can’t guarantee, but I say it’s always my goal.”
NATO leaders are expected to approve key decisions next week, including a strengthened presence on the eastern flank and an updated long-term strategy document. But a few days before the summit, Finland’s and Sweden’s membership applications for the alliance have still not been settled.
Although countries’ membership enjoys broad support, the decision to add a new member to NATO requires the approval of all 30 allies. And Turkey has raised objections to offers from Sweden and Finland, accusing the two countries of backing Kurdish groups it considers terrorists.
“It’s not the first time we’ve seen one or a few allies disagree with the others,” Stoltenberg said, expressing optimism that Ankara’s opposition won’t prevent Helsinki and Stockholm to finally join.
Norway’s former prime minister also insisted that NATO allies have the ability to continue supplying Ukraine with weapons ‘for as long as it takes’, a statement that comes amid warnings Ukrainians that it lacks ammunition and is becoming increasingly dependent on arms supplies from Western allies.
NATO allies, Stoltenberg said, have a “political and moral obligation” not to relax arms deliveries.
“We need to maintain modern weapons support deliverables, heavy weapons, as NATO allies have been doing now for a long time, and also that NATO has a role to play in support,” Stoltenberg stressed. He pointed out that the war in Ukraine actually started in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and supported fighters in eastern Ukraine.
The war in Ukraine will be a “long-term” effort, Stoltenberg stressed.
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