NATO will fast-track the membership applications of Sweden and Finland if they decide to join the alliance, said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Sunday. This comes after Sweden and Finland on Thursday officially declared their intent to join NATO. The United States and Germany have already pledged support for the accession of Nordic nations to NATO.

Baerbock stated ahead of the informal meeting of NATO ministers of foreign affairs in Berlin. “If their parliaments, if their societies are going to decide to join NATO, this will make us even stronger defense-wise, but also with our values as democratic partners. Therefore, Germany has prepared everything to do a quick ratification process and yesterday evening many countries have underlined this as well that it’s an important part that there won’t be an inter-between time, a grey zone, but if these two countries are deciding to join they can join quickly,”

Earlier this month, Russian Ambassador to Canada Oleg Stepanov told Sputnik during an interview that Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO will turn the region into a theatre of war. “Finland and Sweden will be put in a position where they are forced to treat Russia as an adversary. Reciprocally, Russians are to change their perception of previously neutral countries as the springboard of NATO threat. And in such a paradigm one can forget about the non-nuclear status of the Baltic,” said Stepanov.