NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, center, speaks with Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, left, and Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde, right, in Brussels, Belgium. (AP/Olivier Matthys)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, center, speaks with Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, left, and Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde, right, in Brussels, Belgium. (AP/Olivier Matthys)

Before Sweden and Finland decided to join, NATO had 30 member countries.

Before Sweden and Finland decided to join, NATO had 30 member countries.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, meets with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 26, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, meets with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 26, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks in Ankara, Turkey, on May 14, 2022. Erdogan threatened to prevent Sweden and Finland’s bid to join NATO. (AP/Burhan Ozbilici)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks in Ankara, Turkey, on May 14, 2022. Erdogan threatened to prevent Sweden and Finland’s bid to join NATO. (AP/Burhan Ozbilici)

Men stand next to an apartment building damaged by Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on May 12, 2022. (AP/Andriy Andriyenko)

Men stand next to an apartment building damaged by Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on May 12, 2022. (AP/Andriy Andriyenko)

Sweden and Finland Pick a Side

Posted: July 1, 2022

When there’s a big bully on the playground, it’s good to have strong friends.

But what if the bully is an entire country?

What if the playground is the whole world?

This February, Russia invaded its neighbor nation of Ukraine. All the world’s nations watched. Each had to decide, Whose side are you on?

Of course, it’s also possible to decide not to decide. Take Finland and Sweden, for example. These two nations are famous for being neutral.

And now?

They’re changing their tune. Finnish and Swedish leaders have asked to join NATO.

NATO stands for “North Atlantic Treaty Organization.” It’s an alliance—a group of countries that stick together. If a little nation in NATO gets picked on, the other nations will come to help it. NATO formed after World War II. Twelve nations saw the damage caused by Nazi Germany. By joining forces, they hoped to stop such a thing ever from happening again.

But Sweden and Finland? Those nations liked to mind their own affairs . . . until Russia invaded Ukraine. Finland and Sweden’s corner of Europe doesn’t look as safe as it once did. They need some big friends on the international playground.

Today, NATO boasts 30 members. Is it time to add two more?

One NATO member, Turkey, says no.

Turkey claims Finland and Sweden protect terrorists. Sweden offered to send diplomats to Turkey to talk things over. Turkey refused—at least at first.

That was bad news for Finland and Sweden. For them to join NATO, all 30 NATO members must agree. Other nations said they would try to help change Turkey’s mind.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. — Proverbs 14:34

What’s next for NATO? Check kids.wng.org for updates.

Why? Scripture says that nations rise and fall. So do alliances. But no matter how the world’s national arrangement changes, God is still the one King over all.

Geography time! Ukraine isn’t Russia’s only neighbor. Finland sits right along Russia’s northwest border. West of Finland, you’ll find Sweden—not quite a next-door neighbor, but just one country away.