Turkey yesterday immediately blocked the beginning of NATO accession talks for Finland and Sweden right after they submitted their applications to join the alliance.

Media reports say during a meeting of NATO ambassadors Turkey said there were issues to work through regarding the two countries joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Turkey blocked a procedural vote on NATO moving fast to accept the applications of Finland and Sweden.

The two Nordic nations had long kept the military alliance at an arm's length, but Moscow’s so-called “special military operation in Ukraine” has reportedly sparked renewed security concern across the region, and the leaders of each country have signaled their desire to join the bloc after more than 75 years of military non-alignment.

Recall, Finnish leaders announced their intentions to join NATO on May 12, and formally presented that desire at a press conference on May 15.

Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson followed suit on May 16, confirming her government had decided to begin the process of seeking NATO membership.

Ankara blames Sweden and, to a lesser extent, Finland for backing groups considered “terrorists” by the Turkish government.  Sweden has also been implementing arms sanctions on Turkey since the latter carried out a cross-border operation into Syria in 2019.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on May 16 that Swedish and Finnish delegations “should not bother” to travel to Ankara after Stockholm announced the two countries would send officials to try to change Turkey’s stance.

The decision to seek a place under the NATO umbrella represents a setback for Moscow.  Russia President Vladimir Putin, however, said on May 16 that Swedish and Finnish NATO membership posed no threat to Russia, but cautioned that Moscow would respond if the Western alliance boosted military infrastructure in the new Nordic members.