North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders on Wednesday, 29 June, formally invited Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance, just a day after Turkey dropped its opposition to their membership.
The path is now clear for the most important expansion of the inter-governmental alliance in decades.
Russia, which continues to be at war with Ukraine, has repeatedly warned both nations against joining NATO.
Both Finland and Sweden have shifted from total neutrality to military non-alignment in 1995 after joining the European Union. But even military neutrality may become a thing of the past, given that NATO is primarily a military alliance.
The logic is simple. Joining NATO would allow Sweden and Finland to avoid a Ukraine-like scenario, wherein if attacked by an aggressor like Russia, other member states will be obligated to go to war against that aggressor in defence of the victim state.
Turkey had raised objections to their incorporation into NATO. It was essential to Sweden and Finland's membership in an alliance that requires a unanimous consensus to admit a new member.
Those differences got resolved at the Madrid Summit, with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stating, "Turkey, Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Turkey's concerns, including around arms exports, and the fight against terrorism."