The North Atlantic Treaty Organization officially offered membership to Sweden and Finland Wednesday.
"We reaffirm our commitment to NATO's Open Door Policy. Today, we have decided to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO and agreed to sign the Accession Protocols," the organization said in a press release Wednesday. "In any accession to the alliance, it is of vital importance that the legitimate security concerns of all allies are properly addressed.
"We welcome the conclusion of the trilateral memorandum between Turkey, Finland, and Sweden to that effect. The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure. The security of Finland and Sweden is of direct importance to the alliance, including during the accession process."
Turkey, a member nation, withdrew its objection Wednesday to including the two countries into the NATO fold during a summit in Madrid, Spain.
The military and political alliance started during the early days of the Cold War with 12 countries and the signing of the Washington Treaty in April 1949.
The most important piece of that treaty is Article 5, which states that an attack on any of the member countries is considered an attack on all member nations, now numbering 30.
Once a nation is formally asked to join the alliance, it follows a procedure to fall in line with several principles defined in the treaty before being granted full permanent membership, according to the organization.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has cited the organization’s expansion in Eastern Europe as part of the reason for invading Ukraine in February, said in May that he was not very concerned should Sweden and Finland join the alliance.
"As to enlargement, Russia has no problem with these states — none. And so, in this sense there is no immediate threat to Russia from an expansion [of NATO] to include these countries," Reuters reported Putin saying during a meeting of former Soviet Union states called the Collective Security Treaty Organization in May. "But the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory would certainly provoke our response. What that [response] will be — we will see what threats are created for us."
NATO said in its release that the decisions made during this summit, including the invitation of Sweden and Finland is directly related to Russia’s Ukrainian aggression.
"We condemn Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms. It gravely undermines international security and stability," the organization said in the release. "It is a blatant violation of international law.
"Russia's appalling cruelty has caused immense human suffering and massive displacements, disproportionately affecting women and children. Russia bears full responsibility for this humanitarian catastrophe."
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.