Sweden and Finland have both been working to secure support for NATO membership — a significant change to the military alliance’s structure follows Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Turkish and Hungarian governments are the biggest obstacle to their NATO ascension. Turkey specifically cited Sweden’s history of sheltering members of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party as well as followers of the U.S.-based religious figure Fethullah Gulen, both of which are considered threats to Turkish national security.
The conflict in Ukraine has increased Erdogan’s diplomatic clout, as evidenced by the Turkish-brokered deal to secure the transfer of Black Sea grain. Erdogan is likely using this elevated position, as well as his NATO veto, to extract concessions from the Nordic nations in order to advance nationalist domestic goals.
Expect the Turkish government ultimately to allow Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession following lengthy, public requests for the two governments to take harder line stances against the Kurdish and Gulenist groups. The Ukrainian conflict also means that Putin is no longer well placed to coerce the Turkish government into blocking the Nordic nations’ NATO membership.
Grant is an Analyst with Foreign Brief and he is an EA-18G Growler pilot in the US Naval Reserve. He holds a master's degree with distinction from the University of London SOAS and focuses on security issues in the Asia Pacific.