When Sweden and Finland declared their intention to join NATO last May, it was seen by many as a poke in the eye for Russia.
Historically, both countries had committed to non-alignment with NATO as a way of avoiding provoking Moscow. The invasion of Ukraine changed that.
Both Finland and Sweden – along with the vast majority of NATO allies – would like to see the countries formally join the alliance at a NATO summit on July 11. However, a significant hurdle stands in the way of this becoming a reality: Turkey has yet to give the plan its formal and official blessing.
Turkey is not the only nation blocking the move: Hungary has also failed to ratify the Nordics’ accession. But right now getting Turkey on side is considered the priority.
Unfortunately for the pro-NATO gang, Western officials are increasingly pessimistic that Turkey will budge.
Officially, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan objects to Sweden and Finland’s membership on security grounds, stemming from a dispute over the extradition of a designated terror group from both Nordic countries.
But Gonul Tol, an expert in the Middle East Institute’s Turkey program, believes there are other reasons that Erdogan doesn’t want to upset Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
From protecting his strongman image to maintaining Russia’s economic lifeline to Turkey, Tol says the Turkish claims about Sweden and Finland harboring terrorists provide perfect cover for Erdogan not to engage on the NATO question at a politically inconvenient time.
Source – CNN