The recently announced decisions by the governments of Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership signify a momentous departure from a longstanding tradition of nonalignment for both countries. The policy shift was triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, of course, but why did they occur now, nearly three months into the war initiated by that invasion? Why did previous Russian aggression not lead Helsinki and Stockholm to conclude that NATO membership was critical to protecting each country’s national interests, while this instance did?

Beyond that fundamental question, what impact would membership have on Swedish and Finnish defense capabilities—and what impact on those of NATO, collectively? How might it affect both the alliance’s shared nuclear deterrence and its conventional deterrence? And what must be done to ensure maximum interoperability between the two countries’ militaries and NATO forces?

This episode of the MWI Podcast tackles those questions and more. John Amble is joined by Rasmus Hindren, the head of international relations at the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, a senior nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, and an experienced defense policy practitioner in Finland. He shares a unique perspective on what these moves mean from the vantage point of one of the two applicants for NATO membership.

You can hear to the full episode below, or find it on Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyTuneIn, or your favorite podcast app. While you’re there, be sure to subscribe. And if you’re enjoying the MWI Podcast, please take a moment to give it a rating or leave a review.

Image credit: Lance Cpl. Caleb Stelter, US Marine Corps