By LORNE COOK
BRUSSELS (AP) — Finland appears on the cusp of joining NATO. Sweden could follow suit. By year’s end, they could stand among the alliance’s ranks. Russia’s war in Ukraine has provoked a public about face on membership in the two Nordic countries. They are already NATO’s closest partners, but should Russia respond to their membership moves they might soon need the organization’s military support. The two are a perfect fit for NATO. Their armed forces, and political and legal systems, are in lock step with the alliance. They bring high-tech military equipment and high levels of defense spending with them. Their accession would double the length of NATO’s borders with Russia. It’s unclear exactly how Moscow will respond.