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NATO signs accession protocols for Finland and Sweden as Ukraine faces shelling in east

From left, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde hold a news conference after the signature of accession protocols at NATO headquarters in Brussels on July 5, 2022. (Stephanie Lecocq/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

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Members of the NATO military alliance took a major step Tuesday in their bid to welcome Sweden and Finland to the fold. Delegations gathered in Brussels to sign “accession protocols,” after which NATO members must ratify the two Nordic countries’ accession to complete their formal joining of the bloc.

“This is truly a historic moment for Finland, for Sweden, for NATO — and for our shared security,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. He said the alliance’s growth from 30 members to 32 would make nations stronger and safer. The signing ceremony follows a decision last week during a NATO summit in Madrid to admit Sweden and Finland, after some wrangling to allay bloc member Turkey’s objections.

The alliance’s enlargement is likely to prove a major irritation to Moscow, which has cited the specter of NATO expansion as justification for the invasion of Ukraine. Russian state media reported that work is underway to ensure the security of Russia’s borders.

Here’s what else to know

  • In an initial vote Tuesday, Russia’s parliament passed measures to shore up its wartime economy, allowing the government to force business to provide goods to the military and make workers put in overtime.
  • Russia fired missiles at a market and residential area in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk, damaging several houses and destroying one, amid intense shelling in the country’s east, officials said. At least two people were killed and seven injured.
  • The conflict in Ukraine has revived debate about possibilities for the use of international law to punish a crime for which the International Criminal Court lacks jurisdiction: the crime of war itself.