Sweden becomes NATO member: Prompted by Ukraine war concerns

Sweden officially joined NATO in Washington on Thursday, marking a significant shift in its national security policy prompted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine two years prior. This move reflects Sweden's belief in the alliance as its prime safeguard.

Publication: 08.03.2024 - 12:32
Sweden becomes NATO member: Prompted by Ukraine war concerns
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Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson completed the accession by delivering the final documentation to the U.S. government, concluding the extensive process of gaining approval from all member states to join the military alliance.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed Sweden's accession, noting the dramatic change in Swedish public opinion towards NATO membership following Russia's aggressive actions in Ukraine. "Swedes realized the profound risk: if Putin was willing to erase one neighbor from the map, he might not stop there," Blinken remarked.

The inclusion of Sweden, along with Finland, represents NATO's most significant expansion in decades and serves as a strategic setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who aimed to prevent the alliance's strengthening. Sweden now enjoys the collective defense guarantee of NATO, where an attack on one member is considered an attack on all.

"Sweden is a safer country today. We have allies and backing," Kristersson stated, highlighting the nation's new security status. Swedes, feeling previously isolated, now see a decreased threat from Russia.

U.S. President Joe Biden emphasized that Sweden's addition makes NATO "more united, determined, and dynamic," praising the military capabilities that Sweden brings to the alliance.

Sweden contributes advanced submarines and Gripen fighter jets to NATO, strengthening the alliance's presence in the Atlantic and Baltic regions. "Sweden’s accession makes NATO stronger, Sweden safer, and the whole Alliance more secure," said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

However, Russia has warned of "political and military-technical counter-measures" in response to Sweden's NATO membership. Analysts compare joining NATO to purchasing insurance, particularly with the U.S. as a key supporter.

This membership marks a departure from Sweden's long-standing policy of military neutrality and reduced military spending post-Cold War. The recent escalation of tensions with Russia has reshaped Swedish defense strategies, culminating in this historic alignment with NATO.

While Finland joined NATO last year, Sweden's accession faced delays due to hesitations from Turkey and Hungary, both maintaining close ties with Russia. After diplomatic efforts, including a goodwill visit by Kristersson to Budapest, Sweden's membership was ratified, solidifying its place within the alliance.

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