Sweden became the 32nd country to join NATO

The process of admitting Sweden into NATO is officially over. The Scandinavian EU country is now NATO's 32nd member.

Sweden is officially the 32nd member of NATO. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristerson presented his country's certificate of accession in Washington on Thursday, completing the accession process. As US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken explained, the Scandinavian EU country formally accepted the security alliance two years after applying for membership. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke of a “historic day”.

After more than 200 years of non-alignment, Sweden now enjoys the protection granted under Article 5, Stoltenberg said, “the ultimate guarantee of the liberty and security of the Allies”. At the same time, Sweden's accession strengthens NATO and makes the entire alliance more secure. The country has an efficient armed forces and a first-class defense sector. Christerson called the addition a “victory for freedom.”

Blinken spoke of a “strategic defeat” for Russia. Russia's aggression against Ukraine led to Sweden joining NATO, he said. He also asserted that the new additions made the military alliance “stronger and bigger” than ever before. NATO now has 32 allies. That's twice as many as during the Cold War.

Sweden's membership applied for 2022

Sweden applied for membership in May 2022 in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at which point it hopes to join next summer. However, coalition members Turkey and Hungary put the accession process on hold for more than a year.

It was only after Kristerson visited Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán that the necessary approval was finally obtained from Hungary at the end of February. Several agreements on arms cooperation were announced. Among other things, they stipulated that Hungary could purchase four new Jas 39 Gripen fighter jets from Sweden.

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Before Hungary, Turkey in particular had long blocked Sweden's entry into NATO. In the end, the country gave the necessary approval only after Sweden promised more efforts in the fight against terrorist organizations. Ankara is primarily concerned with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which the European Union has also classified as a terrorist organization. The US government also proposed the process of selling F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

Welcome to Finland 2023

Along with Sweden, Finland also applied for NATO membership in 2022. However, the country was welcomed into the alliance as the 31st member in April last year.

After the US State Department confirmed Hungary's approval, Sweden's accession to NATO was sealed by handing it over to US Secretary of State Blinken. It is called the depository of NATO's founding treaty and is responsible for the registration of documents known as the North Atlantic Treaty.

Stoltenberg has recently repeatedly emphasized that in his view Finland and Sweden joining the alliance is a clear sign of the failure of Russian President Vladimir Putin's policies. Putin went to war against Ukraine with the stated goal of having a reduced NATO presence in Europe and preventing further expansion of the alliance, he explained. Now Putin is getting the opposite of what he wanted.

At the same time, NATO insists that Russia has no reason to feel threatened by its northern expansion. The alliance also contradicts representations that the Confederation actually wants to encircle Russia. According to NATO data, only about eleven percent of the 20,000-kilometer Russian land border, even after expansion, is currently NATO territory.

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Swedish flag at NATO headquarters in Brussels

Russia has threatened “countermeasures of a political and military-technical nature” against Sweden's entry into NATO, especially if troops and weapons from the military alliance are transferred to the country. Moscow did not specify what these measures would entail.

A ceremony marking Sweden's accession will take place at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday. The Swedish flag will also be hoisted in front of the coalition headquarters. (APA)

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