NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg “aims” for Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance “soon” despite Turkey’s objections, but warned he “cannot guarantee” the quick timetable.
Speaking at a POLITICO event on Wednesday, the NATO chief indicated that while negotiations between the three countries are still ongoing, a solution has yet to be found, less than a week before a much-anticipated summit in Madrid.
“My goal remains to make sure that [Sweden and Finland] you can join soon,” Stoltenberg said. “I can’t guarantee it, but I say that’s still my goal.”
NATO leaders are set to sign off on key decisions next week, including a reinforced presence on the eastern flank and an updated long-term strategy document. But with just days to go before the summit, offers from Finland and Sweden to join the alliance are still unresolved.
While there is broad support for countries’ membership, the decision to add a new NATO member requires the approval of all 30 allies. And Turkey has objected to offers from Sweden and Finland, accusing both countries of supporting Kurdish groups it views as terrorists.
“This is not the first time we have seen one or just a few allies disagree with the rest,” Stoltenberg said, expressing optimism that Ankara’s opposition will not prevent Helsinki and Stockholm from finally coming together.
The former Norwegian prime minister also insisted that NATO allies have the ability to continue providing weapons to Ukraine “for as long as necessary,” a statement that comes amid warnings from Ukraine that it is running out of ammunition and relies on more and more of arms shipments from Western allies.
NATO allies, Stoltenberg said, have a “political and moral obligation” not to slow down arms shipments.
“We should maintain support deliveries of modern weapons, heavy weapons, as NATO allies have done for a long time, and also that NATO has a role to play in providing support,” Stoltenberg stressed. He stressed that the war in Ukraine actually started in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and backed fighters in eastern Ukraine.
The war in Ukraine will be a “long-term” effort, Stoltenberg stressed.