Washington: NATO air forces have good coordination with partners in Sweden and Finland and are ready to integrate them as soon as the two countries join the alliance, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations at NATO’s Headquarters Allied Air Command Brigadier General Christoph Pliet said on Wednesday.
“On the air side, we are prepared, we had some initial discussions with our partner nations already,” Pliet told a virtual press briefing.
He expressed confidence that the integration of both countries with NATO is “quite strong already,” and the military is awaiting a political decision with regard to approving the bids of Finland and Sweden.
“They are practicing day to day with us,” Pliet said.
In May, Finland and Sweden submitted membership applications to NATO, abandoning decades of neutrality due to a shift in the European security environment that they said was caused by Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.
The membership bids were initially blocked by Turkey due to the two nations’ long-standing support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara considers a terrorist organization and threat to its national security.
However, the three countries signed a security memorandum last month prior to the NATO summit in Madrid, unblocking the accession process and agreeing to bolster cooperation on counterterrorism.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in early April that further expansion of the alliance eastward is aggressive in nature and will not make Europe more secure. At the same time, the Kremlin does not consider the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO an existential threat to Russia, he noted.