Sweden: We Want to Join NATO, Too

Government, like Finland's, will apply for membership
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 16, 2022 8:58 AM CDT
Sweden Ends 200 Years of Neutrality, Knocks on NATO's Door
Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson gives a news conference in Stockholm, Sweden, Monday. Sweden's government has decided to apply for a NATO membership.   (Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency via AP)

Sweden's prime minister announced Monday that Sweden will join Finland in seeking NATO membership in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a historic shift that comes after more than 200 years of military nonalignment in the Nordic country, per the AP. The move, which is likely to upset the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin, came after neighboring Finland announced Sunday that it too would seek to join the 30-country military alliance. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson called it “a historic change in our country’s security policy” as she addressed lawmakers in the Swedish capital.

“We will inform NATO that we want to become a member of the alliance,” she said. "Sweden needs formal security guarantees that come with membership in NATO.” The announcement came after a debate in the Riksdagen, or parliament, earlier Monday showed that there is huge support for joining NATO. Out of Sweden’s eight parties, only two smaller left-leaning parties opposed it. Public opinion in both Nordic countries was firmly against joining NATO before the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, but support for NATO membership surged quickly in both nations after that.

Once a regional military power, Sweden has avoided military alliances since the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Like Finland, it remained neutral throughout the Cold War, but formed closer relations with NATO after the 1991 Soviet collapse. Putin said Monday that Moscow “does not have a problem” with Sweden or Finland as they apply for NATO membership, but that "the expansion of military infrastructure onto this territory will of course give rise to our reaction in response.”

(Read more Sweden stories.)

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