NATO eyes 'heightened presence' around Sweden, Baltic
Sweden and Finland are considering applying for NATO membership and a decision is expected in the coming days or weeks.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, on Thursday, that the alliance may increase its presence around Sweden and the Baltic Sea to "protect the country from Russian meddling during a potential membership application."
"We must remember that from the moment Sweden potentially applies, and NATO says that it wants Sweden to join, there is a very strong NATO obligation to guarantee Sweden's security", Stoltenberg told Swedish public television SVT.
"We have several ways of doing that, among other things with a heightened presence of NATO and NATO forces around Sweden and the Baltic Sea," he added.
An expansion of the Atlantic alliance is likely to fuel the situation, as Russia has constantly warned of "consequences" if the Nordic neighbors apply.
On Thursday, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin stated that talks had already taken place with France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States and that a quick ratification process would be "the best security guarantee."
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde, who concluded a trip to Canada and the United States on Thursday, said in Washington on Tuesday that the US was willing to provide "different kinds of security assurances" during the application process.