Finland and Sweden formally apply to join NATO

Sauli Niinisto, Magdalena Andersson
(Image credit: Michael Campanella/Getty Images)

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO on Wednesday, delivering letters of intent to the Western military alliance's headquarters in Brussels. The application begins a months-long process of accession, with both Nordic countries expected to win membership in a matter of months, bringing the number of member states to 32. "We are leaving one era and beginning another," Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said Monday.

Sweden and Finland have been militarily non-aligned for decades or, in Sweden's case, centuries. But they are both members of the European Union and they already participate in military exercises with NATO.

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