Sweden presented what it would gain from NATO membership

Sweden’s NATO membership will boost national security and help stabilize the Scandinavian and Baltic regions, Foreign Minister An Linde said on Friday, a day after neighboring Finland said it would seek to join the US-led alliance “immediately”.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced Sweden – and its closest military partner Finland – to publicly occupy the country after staying out of the military since it was founded in 1949 to oppose the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

Stockholm is expected to follow Helsinki’s example and apply to join the 30-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization as early as Monday. The latest decisions on this are expected in the two capitals between Saturday and Monday.

“Sweden’s NATO membership will raise the threshold for military conflict and thus have an effect on preventing it in northern Europe,” Linde told reporters as he presented the conclusions of a security review examining the pros and cons of Sweden’s membership in NATO.

The most important consequence of Sweden’s membership in NATO would be that Sweden will be part of NATO’s collective security and will be included in security guarantees following Article 5. The text of Article 5 of the NATO Treaty states that an attack on any NATO country must be seen as an attack on all.

Although Sweden and Finland have long had close relations with NATO and regularly participate in exercises and summits, they are not covered by its security guarantees. The government said the report did not constitute a recommendation to join NATO.

The Left and the Greens were the only parties that did not support the report’s conclusions.

If Sweden submits an application and it is approved by the member states, ratification will be required by all NATO countries, and later by the Swedish parliament.

Moscow said in April that it could deploy nuclear missiles in its exclave, Kaliningrad, sandwiched between NATO’s Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea if Finland or Sweden join.

“If Sweden chooses to seek NATO membership, there is a risk of a backlash from Russia,” said Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist. “Let me say that in that case, we are ready to deal with any counter-response.”

Hultqvist said Sweden would also need guarantees from allies to cover the period between its bid to join NATO and its ratification by existing members.

“Among other things, intensified military exercises with international partners both on Swedish territory and in the immediate vicinity can contribute to raising the threshold (against attack),” he said.

Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats are expected to end decades of opposition and formally approve NATO accession on Sunday. Parliament will then discuss security issues on Monday.

Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson is expected to convene a special cabinet meeting immediately after the debate and the membership application will be sent to NATO headquarters by the end of the day, the Express newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.

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