No doubt, many readers are aware that in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both Finland and Sweden decided to join the NATO alliance. Both nations have historically been officially neutral as they were not NATO members, even though their military forces did conduct joint exercises with NATO nations. The vast majority of NATO nations eagerly welcomed Finland and Sweden as new members, but Turkey refused to approve their membership application. Turkey finally did approve Finland’s membership application so Finland has officially joined NATO. Finland’s membership greatly strengthens the NATO alliance, as it has substantial military forces (one of the biggest artillery forces in Europe). If Sweden were to formally join NATO, it would give NATO another big boost in the alliance’s military forces. Sweden’s membership in NATO would put all of Scandinavia in the NATO alliance and it would give NATO needed strategic depth in northern Europe. Sweden also brings the advantage of having another nation in the alliance which can domestically manufacture its own warplanes and other weaponry.

There is every reason to admit Sweden into NATO as soon as possible, but NATO’s charter requires that each new applicant nation be approved unanimously by all current members. Finland received the approval of all NATO members, but Turkey has, so far, refused to approve Sweden’s membership bid, as has Hungary. The first link addresses the status of the intense efforts by NATO members to convince Turkey to allow Sweden into the NATO alliance, and the second link and third link detail the strong effort made by the USA to convince Turkey to admit Sweden into NATO. The first link describes progress has been made in gaining Turkey’s approval for Sweden, but NATO members are disappointed such approval will apparently not be given by Turkey before an important NATO conference in Lithuania on July 11-12. 29 NATO nations have said that Sweden has “done enough to satisfy Turkey’s demands” to permit Turkey to approve Sweden’s admittance to NATO. Hungary still has not approved Sweden’s application either, but its reasons for not supporting Sweden’s application are murky.

Sweden’s acceptance of Turkish demands in order to admit Sweden into NATO have been substantial, to say the least. In order to please Turkey, “Sweden has changed its constitution, modified anti-terror laws, and lifted an arms embargo on Turkey, among other concessions (first link).” These are major efforts on Sweden’s part to placate Turkey, and it does seem Sweden has “bent over backwards” to satisfy Turkish demands. There is apparently some lingering concern by Turkey about Sweden’s stance on the PKK, a Kurdish separatist movement that has in the past supported terrorist acts inside Turkey, but there seems to be no other known reason for Turkey to oppose Swedish membership. Sweden has very strong US support for its NATO application so it does seem that Sweden’s membership will eventually be approved, albeit without any current known time-frame for that approval.

The fourth link is a long analysis of the recent Turkish election, won by Turkish President Erdogan. If you wish to skip the long election analysis of how Erdogan won election in spite of a poor Turkish economy, you can jump to the final few paragraphs for comments very germane to this post. It states that Erdogan has declared that he has a “‘special relationship’ with Putin.'” Erdogan did broker an important deal that allowed Ukraine to export some of its wheat to world markets where it was sorely needed. It also comments on Turkey’s desire to purchase F-16s from the USA. Normally, such a purchase would be approved easily by the USA, but Turkey has purchased Russian air defense systems– which were designed to shoot down NATO warplanes. No doubt, this has made many NATO member nations queasy about Turkey’s actual level of commitment to NATO’s defense. There is still some negotiating to do, but a deal of some kind seems likely to obtain Turkey’s approval of Sweden’s membership application into NATO. NATO nations want to see clear commitments by Turkey to the NATO alliance in any such deal, given Erdogan’s personal closeness to Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s purchase of a Russian air defense system. I sense that Sweden’s NATO application is simply a bargaining chip in the middle of larger negotiations between Turkey on one hand and the USA/NATO on the other.

In my research paper, What Ezekiel 38-39 Reveals about a Future World War IIII offer considerable commentary and much research about which modern nations will be on separate sides in a final age-ending global war. At the risk of over-simplification, the nations attacked in a surprise attack will be the NATO nations and their global allies. The attackers will be Russia, China, Iran and their global allies. Having both Sweden and Turkey in the NATO alliance is very important as each nation has a strategic geographic location on NATO’s northern and southern flanks. Very much is at stake in having a NATO which is as strong and united as possible. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has backfired on Russia, as a previous post I wrote predicted. My post stated Russia’s invasion would likely lead to non-NATO nations applying for membership in NATO, strengthening that alliance against Russia. That has happened. Finland has joined and Sweden is close to joining. Another nation is being pushed by global events into considering a NATO application of its own. That nation is…Japan. Japan is highly threatened by China, North Korean and Russia. Japan needs allies in addition to the USA, and NATO offers many new allies. Japan has been drawing closer to NATO and I would not be surprised to see it formally apply for NATO membership before too long (fifth link). I’m sure this option is already being discussed in many NATO capitals behind the scenes.