NATO chief says Finland, Sweden welcome to apply to join  

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NATO would quickly welcome Finland and Sweden into its ranks with open arms if they decided to apply, the military alliance’s top civilian official said Wednesday, as Russia’s war on Ukraine spurs public support in the two Nordic countries for membership. The military organization might also be ready to provide security guarantees to the countries if any potential membership bid angers Russia, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. A poll last month by Finnish broadcaster YLE showed that, for the first time, more than 50% of Finns support joining the Western military alliance. In neighboring Sweden, a similar poll showed that those in favor of NATO membership outnumber those against. “If they decide to apply, I expect that all allies will welcome them,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels, as NATO foreign ministers met to discuss the war in Ukraine. “We know that they can easily join this alliance if they decide to apply.”

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