The change was a victory for President Biden and a setback to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who had justified the Ukraine invasion as a warning against NATO’s expansion.
Finnish and Swedish hopes of being accepted as applicants by next week’s NATO summit meeting have been dashed by a Turkish government that says it is in no hurry.
Speedy approval seems likely among most members of the alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Turkey’s objections remain a sticking point.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine created new fears, and the Swedes, dragged along by Finland, are expected to apply, reluctantly, to join the alliance and its collective defense.
Neutral Finland’s leaders unequivocally said they intended to seek membership in the alliance, with Sweden expected to do the same, inviting new threats from Moscow.
The invasion of Ukraine has heightened security fears, pushing even formally nonaligned countries toward the Western alliance.
“We usually don’t start wars,” President Sauli Niinisto of Finland said as the leaders spoke amid the war in Ukraine.
The Finnish president, Sauli Niinisto, has carved out a vital role as interpreter between East and West, and he is not optimistic about the prospects for peace.
European diplomats are exploring whether a seven-year-old negotiating channel, initially intended to resolve a conflict in eastern Ukraine, can be repurposed to calm a wider crisis.