NATO's 30 allies signed an accession protocol for Finland and Sweden on Tuesday to allow them to join the nuclear-armed alliance once allied parliaments ratify the decision, the most significant expansion of the alliance since the mid-1990s.
"This is truly an historic moment," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said alongside the foreign ministers of the two countries. "With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger."
The protocol means Helsinki and Stockholm can participate in NATO meetings and have greater access to intelligence but will not be protected by the NATO defence clause that an attack on one ally is an attack against all until ratification. That is likely to take up to a year. (Reporting by Robin Emmott and Sabine Siebold)