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Timeline of NATO expansion since 1949

May 10, 2022 GMT
FILE - Secretary of State Dean Acheson signs the Atlantic defense treaty for the United States, April 4, 1949. Vice President Alben W. Barkley, left, and President Harry Truman converse during the signing. Finland and Sweden are nearing decisions on whether to ditch their long-standing policy of military nonalignment and join NATO in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto is expected to announce his stance on NATO membership on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/File)
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FILE - Secretary of State Dean Acheson signs the Atlantic defense treaty for the United States, April 4, 1949. Vice President Alben W. Barkley, left, and President Harry Truman converse during the signing. Finland and Sweden are nearing decisions on whether to ditch their long-standing policy of military nonalignment and join NATO in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto is expected to announce his stance on NATO membership on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/File)
1 of 15
FILE - Secretary of State Dean Acheson signs the Atlantic defense treaty for the United States, April 4, 1949. Vice President Alben W. Barkley, left, and President Harry Truman converse during the signing. Finland and Sweden are nearing decisions on whether to ditch their long-standing policy of military nonalignment and join NATO in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto is expected to announce his stance on NATO membership on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/File)

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Finland and Sweden are nearing decisions on whether to ditch their long-standing policy of military nonalignment and join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

They would become the 31st and 32nd members of the trans-Atlantic alliance, which was founded by the U.S. and 11 other countries following World War II. Here’s a timeline showing key developments in NATO’s history.

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1949: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is founded to deter Soviet expansion and a revival of European militarism. The 12 original members are the United States, Canada, Britain, Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal.

1952: Greece and Turkey join in the alliance’s first expansion.

1955: West Germany joins NATO. In response, the Soviet Union and seven countries in Eastern Europe form the eight-nation Warsaw Pact.

1982: Spain becomes the 16th member of NATO.

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1991: The Soviet Union collapses and the Warsaw Pact is dissolved.

1994: Finland and Sweden join NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. The following year they join the European Union, effectively ceasing to be neutral, but remaining military nonaligned.

1999: Three former Warsaw Pact nations — the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland — join NATO.

2001: Article 5 in the NATO treaty, which stipulates that an attack on any NATO member is an attack on all, is triggered for the first time after the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

2002: The NATO-Russia Council is formed to help NATO members and Russia to work together on security issues.

2003: NATO takes command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF).

2004: The biggest NATO expansion to date as seven countries become members: Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The latter three are the only former Soviet republics to have joined the alliance.

2008: NATO countries welcome Ukraine and Georgia’s aspirations to join the alliance, angering Russia. In August, Russia wins a short war with Georgia over the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Moscow recognizes as independent states.

2009: Croatia and Albania become NATO members.

2011: NATO enforces a no-fly zone over Libya. Sweden takes part with fighter jets on reconnaissance missions.

2014: NATO suspends most cooperation with Russia after its annexation of Crimea.

2015: NATO ends the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. The alliance remains in Afghanistan to train local security forces until the Taliban takeover in 2021.

2017: Montenegro joins NATO.

2020: North Macedonia becomes NATO’s 30th member.

2022: Sweden and Finland explore the possibility of NATO membership after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.