The Finnish initiation: The Government of Finland confirmed its intention on joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on Sunday, at a press conference at the presidential palace.
In what is labelled to be a gutsy move, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto called Russian President Vladimir Putin to inform him of this decision.
A statement on the call from the Kremlin said that such a move would be mistake, "since there are no threats to Finland's security".
Your move, Sweden: Finland's neighbour is not too far behind.
Sweden stood its ground as Europe witnessed various 19th century conflicts, two world wars and during the Cold War.
A joint application?: Conversations on NATO memberships between Finland and Sweden has been going on for sometime, and will likely make a joint application to join.
This is largely driven by Russia's military action in Ukraine, which drove these countries closer towards the security offered by NATO, a 30-member military alliance.
An unhappy Russia: Should this move go ahead, Russia would potentially share borders with five members, including Finland and Sweden.
The other three are Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia; former constituents of the defunct Soviet Union. Another member, Turkey, lies across the Black Sea.
"This is another grave mistake with far-reaching consequences," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov is quoted telling the press. He stated that common sense was being sacrificed for some "phantom idea" and that there would be consequences.
NATO, so far: The body's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has indicated that they would welcome them with "open arms".
US President Joe Biden called the leaders of Sweden and Finland last Friday, underscoring NATO's "open-door policy", the White House said.
The open-door policy: NATO says that any European country can apply that can contribute to the security of the North Atlantic region.
It is based on Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, NATO's founding documents.
One-size fits all?: Not really. There's no standard checklist to become a member of NATO, according to a US State Department archive.
But: To be NATO's member, a country must fulfill certain characteristics:
- A military under civilian control
- Democracy, led by a market-driven economy and consisting of political parties
- Diversity that includes a fair treatment of minorities
- An ability to contribute towards NATO's military commitments
What's next?: Countries wishing to join are invited to negotiate with NATO on their application.
Such countries then have to adhere to a Membership Action Plan (MAP): a set of tailormade action or reforms that the country needs to undertake to meet NATO membership.
All for one: Article 10 of the Washington Treaty says that new members are admitted on the basis of "by unanimous agreement" i.e. all existing members must agree to the joining of newer members.
Following this, potential members are invited to sign accession protocols, eventually leading to their accession and eventual membership.
A fundamental tenet of the alliance is that an attack on one member is considered to be an attack on all, and newer members are included in this.
The Turkish obstacle: It has threatened to block Finland's and Sweden's accession to NATO.
Turkey has concerns over Sweden's support for the Kurdistan Worker's Party; a body that Turkey considers to be a terrorist organisation.
Several Turks have also been granted asylum in Nordic countries over political dissent at home. They also reportedly harbour supporters of Fathullah Gulen, a preacher, wanted for a failed effort at toppling the regime in Turkey in 2016.
However, Turkey has indicated that it is willing to talk.
Ukraine and NATO: Ukraine's then President Leonid Kuchma, back in 2002, announced its intention for eventual NATO membership. In 2008, at NATO's Bucharest Summit, leaders agreed that Ukraine (and Georgia) would become a NATO member in the future.
Ukraine has made serious efforts towards its NATO membership, such as amending its constitution and passing legislation making NATO membership a national priority in 2017.
However, co-operation between NATO and Ukraine has existed since the latter's formation in the 1990s in nearly all spheres of defense.
NATO has also been a thorny issues before the conflict, as Russia demanded assurances from NATO that Ukraine would not join the alliance.
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