Finland and Sweden are on the verge of joining NATO

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NATO has 30 members. By the end of June, the roster may grow to 32, should Finland and Sweden join.

The Nordic duo has fans. On April 29 U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee America will "strongly support" NATO membership for Sweden and Finland. On April 28 Jans Stoltenberg, a Norwegian and NATO's secretary-general since October 2014, told international press that "Finland and Sweden are our closest partners, they are strong, mature democracies, EU members, and we have worked with Finland and Sweden for many, many years."

Stoltenberg added: "We know that their armed forces meet NATO standards, are interoperable with NATO forces. We train together, we exercise together..."

Translation: Finland and Sweden field modern military forces that meet NATO standards. They operate effectively with U.S., Canadian, British, French and Italian forces.

Fact: For years both nations have trained with NATO forces, initially on the sly but since 2018 in public view. In March 2022 Finland and Sweden formed a combined brigade that participated in a NATO exercise in Arctic Norway.

Circa 2015 major media began paying attention to polls assessing public support for neutrality in Finland and Sweden. As usual, major

March 18, 2014, spurred Finnish and Swedish suspicion of neutrality. On that day Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of Crimea.

The historically informed know aggression, annexation and expansion by a major European power leads to mass slaughter across the Continent. In the 20th century, aggression and expansion produced two global wars.

By invading and annexing Crimea, Russia created two other peace-destroying facts. Russia violated a multilateral diplomatic agreement guaranteeing Ukraine's territorial integrity. The violated agreement, the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, traded Ukrainian nuclear weapons for mutual security guarantees. Then-President Bill Clinton signed it. It was part of a larger post-Cold War diplomatic framework forwarding disarmament, economic development, cooperation and democratic development in former Iron Curtain countries.

The Budapest Memorandum was supposed to provide an example of successful nuclear disarmament and be a guide to halting nuclear proliferation.

So, no-nuke peaceniks in the U.S., Canada and U.K. -- I'm calling you out. How come you dupes failed to show up en masse in Red Square to oppose Putin's attack on nuclear arms control and fight for the survival of our planet?

One answer: because the dupes' media carping was a substantially Russian-financed propaganda campaign.

Finnish and Swedish intelligence know the paid propaganda ruse to be true. That's one reason Swedish sources say Russian intelligence and propaganda agencies are extremely interested in influencing Swedish politicians who favor joining NATO. Russian subversion warfare is a real threat to the security of every targeted nation.

However, 2022's violent reality of the Russian tank, infantry, artillery, aircraft and missile invasion of Ukraine -- the evil deeds -- supersedes twisted Kremlin words, fake tweets, faux scandals and cyber hacks.

Understand Sweden has not fought in a war since 1814. However, a recent opinion poll found 57% of Swedes wanted to join NATO, if Finland does. Some 65% to 70% of Finns support NATO membership.

Joining NATO requires amending NATO's Washington Treaty. That can take time -- up to a year. All 30 alliance members must ratify the amendment. But so far RUMINT indicates NATO members will fast-

Finland and Sweden are already functionally members of NATO. There are other nations that are functionally part of NATO -- unofficial, off-the-books allies beyond the protection of the NATO treaty's Article 5. That is a subject for a future column.

To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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