What Sweden’s accession to NATO means for its new allies and Putin

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What Sweden’s accession to NATO means for its new allies and Putin

It’s taken nearly two years of political jousting and a war of words with multiple member states – not to mention a series of menacing threats from Vladimir Putin . But Sweden is today set to formally join NATO in a stunning break with a two-century-long policy of military neutrality. Prompted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Scandinavian nation and its Nordic partner Finland conducted a comprehensive review of its longstanding national security policy and just two months later applied to join the mammoth security bloc.

And now, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson is in Washington to hand over the final documentation, with the White House saying in a statement ahead of President Joe Biden ‘s State of the Union Address that Sweden would officially be granted member status today. ‘Having Sweden as a NATO Ally will make the United States and our Allies even safer,’ the statement said, before Kristersson declared: ‘Sweden will soon be NATO’s 32nd member.’ A Swedish flag will now be hoisted outside NATO headquarters in Brussels at on Monday in a ceremonial marking of Stockholm’s accession to the alliance once final administrative duties are carried out.

For NATO, the accession of Sweden and Finland – which shares a 1,340 km border with Russia – is the most significant expansion for decades. It also constitutes a significant blow for the Russian President, who has sought to prevent any further strengthening of the alliance and threatened to take unspecified ‘political and military-technical counter-measures’ in response to Sweden’s move. Upon becoming a NATO member, Sweden will benefit from the alliance’s common defence guarantee under which an attack on one is regarded as an attack on all.

‘We have to face the world as it is not how we sometimes wish it were,’ Kristersson said after Hungary became the last NATO member to ratify Sweden’s accession last week, recognising that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine destabilised the European security landscape and necessitated a break with a non-aligned foreign policy. In return, Sweden will add cutting-edge submarines and a sizable fleet of highly capable, domestically produced Gripen fighter jets to NATO forces. It will also be a crucial link between the Atlantic and NATO’s Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – long seen as an Achilles heel for the alliance. Pictured: Two Swedish Airforce JAS-39 Gripen fighter aircraft in close formation.

Source: Daily Mail