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

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.

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.

In recent years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought guarantees from NATO that it would halt its eastern expansion and end military cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia, which are not members.

In February, Putin said Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine was a means to stop NATO’s growth, which he perceives as an encroachment.

NATO military operations

Article 5 of the NATO treaty states the principle of collective defence as being at the core of NATO’s founding pact. This clause means that an attack against one ally is considered an attack against all members.

Some of NATO’s notable military operations include a naval blockade and air campaign during the Bosnia war, which lasted from 1992 to 1995.In 1999, NATO launched an air campaign to compel Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic to pull his forces out of Kosovo and end the conflict there.

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