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NATO formally invites Finland, Sweden after Turkey drops opposition

The NATO military alliance on Wednesday formally invited Finland and Sweden to join its ranks, after Turkey on Tuesday agreed to drop its opposition to the countries' prospective membership.

Such a "historic expansion" of the alliance is surely a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine, CNN writes, which is colored in part by fears of NATO's eastward enlargement.

"The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure," the alliance said a statement. "The security of Finland and Sweden is of direct importance to the alliance, including during the accession process."

The process will now move to the legislatures of all 30 member states for final ratification, which could take several months, adds The New York Times.

"The agreement concluded last night by Turkey, Finland, and Sweden paved the way for this decision," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during a news conference. Turkey had initially opposed the Nordic nations' accession due to concerns regarding their support for organizations Turkey views as terrorist threats.

This new agreement "demonstrates that President Putin did not succeed in closing NATO's door," Stoltenberg continued Wednesday. "NATO's door remains open. And it also demonstrates that we respect the sovereign right of every nation to choose their own path."