Sweden and Finland join NATO as alliance to deploy massive 300,000 troops to confront Russia

SWEDEN and Finland have been allowed to join NATO after signing up following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It comes as the alliance has said it will deploy more than 300,000 troops to confront Vladimir Putin in what will be the largest fighting force since the Cold War.

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A Finnish soldier on a recent joint exercise with Swedish troopsCredit: Getty
A soldier from Sweden manning a machine gun during the same war games

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A soldier from Sweden manning a machine gun during the same war gamesCredit: Getty

Russia shares a land border with Finland and Sweden and a sea border.

Finland first officially applied to join NATO, the day after Russia first threatened to destroy it within seconds.

Both countries faced strong objections from Turkey, which initially said it would block their applications.

But these have now been scrapped, paving the way for them to join the alliance.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Russian tyrant is now “getting more NATO on his borders”.

The surge in high readiness forces comes in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO.

“Together, this represents the largest overhaul of our collective deterrence and defense since the Cold War,” Stoltenberg said.

“We will transform the NATO Response Force and increase the number of our high-preparedness forces to over 300,000.”

Jens added that the 30-member alliance is expected to view Russia as “the most significant and immediate threat to our security.”

There are fears that Putin would lash out at NATO, particularly Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which were once ruled from Moscow.

And the NATO chief also confirmed the reinforcement of units deployed in eight eastern and southeastern NATO countries to deter hostilities against Russia.

They will grow in size from 1,000-strong battlegroups to brigades, consisting of about 3,000-5,000 troops.

Leaders will also discuss plans to strengthen the alliance’s eastern flank, outline a new force model, announce financing decisions and publish a “Strategic Compact” outlining NATO’s strategy for the coming years, NATO diplomats said.

The NATO Response Force currently consists of approximately 40,000 soldiers, sailors and aircrew.

They are kept in varying degrees of mobilization readiness, ranging from two days to six months.

It comes after The Sun reported that NATO plans to create another 200,000-strong force to “wipe Russia off the face” if Putin invades an ally country.

The new Allied Reaction Force (ARF) will be six times larger than the current formation poised to fend off Russian aggression, the NATO Response Force (NRF).

NATO’s political and military leaders have tried to use Russian aggression to revive the alliance.

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British General Sir Patrick Sanders called out for troops to prepare to face Russian forces in World War III when he recently took command of the British Land Forces.

And Russia has plans of its own, as a Kremlin warship has recently twice breached NATO waters in what has been described as an “unacceptable provocation”.

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