Finland will announce whether it will join NATO on May 15. A day later, its neighbor Sweden will decide whether to follow suit.
Also next week, U.S. President Joe Biden will start his trip to Asia on Friday, and Australia’s election will kick off on Sunday.
Sweden and Finland: It’s decision time for whether to go from neutral to NATO
Following neighbor Finland’s first move to join NATO because of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Sweden’s government will also make plans which would rewrite its post-World War Two security policy next week.
Sweden’s parliament will debate the security situation on Monday, and Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson will then call a special cabinet meeting where the formal decision to apply will be taken, according to Expressen newspaper, a nationwide newspaper in Sweden, citing unnamed sources.
If they do, the two countries will end their long history of non-alignment.
In Finland, 76 percent of the population voted to join NATO. Before Russia started its operation in Ukraine, public support had been at around 20-25 percent for years, according to an opinion poll by Yle, a Finnish broadcasting company.
The poll also indicates that 57 percent of the population in Sweden wants to join NATO, far higher than before the conflict.
During a conversation with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto on May 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Finland’s rejection of the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake.
The U.S. has claimed that it is confident about addressing “any security concerns either country might have in the period between applying and formally becoming members.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said he expects the process of “giving Sweden and Finland membership to happen quite quickly.”
Biden to discuss DPRK on Asia trip
U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to visit the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan from May 20-24 and hold talks with his Korean and Japanese counterparts, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on May 5.
The nuclear and missile programs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will be on the agenda. On May 12, the Biden administration said the DPRK could launch a missile test as early as this month.
Biden will also discuss holding Russia accountable for the Ukraine crisis during the trip, which will also include talks in Tokyo with the leaders of the Quad grouping of nations, the United States, Australia, Japan and India, Psaki said.
Australians go to the voting booths on May 21, with recent polls showing Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition on track to lose to center-left Labor, ending nine years of conservative government.
On Saturday, Morrison promised to be more empathetic if he wins re-election, as his government continues to trail the opposition Labor Party a week before a general election.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese campaigned on Saturday in Darwin, where he announced that, if elected, he would spend A$750 million ($520 million) to strengthen Australia’s universal healthcare scheme.
Day by day:
Monday: Vladimir Putin hosts summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO); Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko talks with Putin during his visit to CSTO summit; EU Foreign Ministers Meeting; U.S. President Joe Biden hosts Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for meetings at the White House; Sweden’s government plans to apply to join NATO.
Tuesday: EU foreign ministers meet on Ukraine, Western Balkans; Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivers a speech at a conference about “Russia’s role in the world.”
Wednesday: A quiet day in politics.
Thursday: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz holds a speech in Bundestag before the next EU summit on May 30-31.
Friday: Biden leaves for his Asia trip to visit South Korea and Japan; Australia’s election polls open
Saturday: Australia election.
Sunday: A quiet day in politics.
(With input from agencies)