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Opinion
Andreas Kluth

NATO Needs to Seal the Deal with Sweden and Finland Fast

Membership would make the two countries safer and the alliance stronger. But there’s a time window of vulnerability.

Stop this bully.

Stop this bully.

Photographer: Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP via Getty Images

Rather like children in playgrounds, countries throughout history have had to decide how to deal with a bully. Appease him in the hope that he becomes meek? Avoid provoking him, at the cost of acquiescing to his brutality? Or counter with strength and willpower to stop and contain him?

If the bully is Russian President Vladimir Putin, the latter is the only tenable answer. That’s what majorities of voters and legislators in Finland and pluralities in Sweden have understood in the past two months. Traditionally neutral, both countries are now moving fast toward joining NATO. They'll probably file coordinated applications in mid-May. If NATO is wise, the alliance will seal the deal at once.