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The Daily Vertical: Northern Exposure (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

In a sign of the times, both Sweden and Finland are flirting with NATO.

Finland's Foreign Ministry has already released a report exploring the effects of membership and Sweden's government will do so this summer.

And while neither report will recommend joining the alliance -- at least not yet -- the mere fact that this issue is even on the table in these two countries speaks volumes.

What does it say, after all, when Sweden is so concerned about Russian aggression that it would consider abandoning its centuries-old policy of neutrality?

What does it say when a record number of Swedes -- 37 percent, according to a recent poll -- favor joining NATO?

What does it say when the country's two opposition parties, as well as some members of the ruling Social Democrats, favor membership in the alliance?

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And what does it say when Sweden's parliament is preparing to ratify a Host Nation Treaty with NATO that would allow the alliance to hold military exercises on its territory?

And what does it say when even Finland -- which shares a 1,340-kilometer-long border with Russia, has long had warm relations with Moscow, and didn't even join the European Union until 1995 -- is thinking out loud about NATO membership?

It says a lot.

It says that Moscow's behavior is deeply alarming not just to NATO, not just to the Americans, not just to the Baltic states, not just to Ukraine -- but to historically neutral countries in its neighborhood.

It says Moscow is making enemies where it once had friends.

It's a sea change.

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