Polish PM: We’ll defend Sweden, Finland if attacked during NATO accession

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Thursday said Warsaw would defend Sweden and Finland if they were attacked during their accession process to military alliance NATO.

“I want to make it clear that in the event of an attack on Sweden and Finland during their accession process, Poland will come to their aid,” he said, speaking during the think tank-led Strategic Ark conference in Warsaw.

Ending more than half a century of military neutrality, the two countries officially submitted their applications Wednesday to join the military alliance, in response to Russia’s deadly war on Ukraine.

There is no formalized timeline for joining NATO, although new countries are required to fulfil several steps, including taking part in official accession negotiations at the military alliance headquarters in Brussels and submit “declarations of commitment.” While NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has hinted that Finland and Sweden’s applications could be “fast-tracked,” analysts say the process could still take several months.

Turkey has also threatened to block the two Nordic nations’ accession bids, accusing them of support for Kurdish groups that Ankara considers terrorist organizations. All NATO members must unanimously approve a candidate country before it can join the alliance.

The U.K. has also pledged to provide military assistance to Sweden and Finland if they come under attack during their transition to membership, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week signing bilateral security deals with the two countries.

At the conference, Morawiecki also called for the creation of permanent NATO bases on the alliance’s eastern flank, and said, “Poland is ready to build such bases.”

The Polish prime minister also slammed Russia as “terrorists” and called for Western countries to continue isolating Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin.