Home World News Sweden has abandoned its long-standing neutrality stance to formally become a member of the NATO alliance after decades

Sweden has abandoned its long-standing neutrality stance to formally become a member of the NATO alliance after decades

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On Thursday, Sweden joined NATO as its 32nd member amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, marking the end of two centuries of neutrality and concluding two years of challenging diplomacy.

Following Hungary’s lead, Sweden ceremonially presented its accession documents to the United States, finalizing its entry into NATO, the transatlantic alliance dedicated to ensuring collective security.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson described Sweden’s NATO membership as a significant yet logical move during his visit to the State Department. He emphasized the decision as a triumph for freedom, highlighting Sweden’s commitment to democracy and unity. In a televised address from Washington, he conveyed to the nation the importance of global engagement, stressing Sweden’s understanding of the broader world beyond its borders, despite being a small nation.

President Joe Biden praised NATO’s strength and unity, despite previous criticisms from Donald Trump, emphasizing that Sweden’s inclusion has bolstered the alliance. The Swedish prime minister was scheduled to attend Biden’s State of the Union address, where the focus was on securing new aid for Ukraine amid opposition from Trump’s Republican Party.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted the unexpected move of Sweden and Finland joining NATO following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, highlighting it as a strategic setback for Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky celebrated Sweden’s NATO membership, expressing that it adds another layer of protection against Russian aggression in Europe.

Sweden has maintained its peace since the Napoleonic wars in the early 19th century.

Historically, Sweden and Finland, despite close military ties with the United States and being EU members, had avoided NATO membership. The alliance was established during the Cold War era to counter the Soviet Union.

Finland and Sweden initiated a joint bid following Ukraine’s invasion, prompting Ukraine’s own failed attempt to join NATO. The alliance’s Article 5 stipulates mutual defense against attacks on any member.

Finland joined in April 2023, but Turkey’s objection delayed Sweden’s membership.

As Sweden officially joined NATO, Blinken remarked, ‘Patience pays off; we always believed in this outcome.’ Russia vows ‘countermeasures’ against NATO presence in Sweden. The NATO flag will fly at its Brussels headquarters on Monday. Allies like the UK and Germany praised the move. Turkey pressed Sweden on Kurdish militants before ratifying membership.

After protesters in Sweden desecrated the Koran, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded action, leveraging the country’s laws on free speech.

In a potential incentive, the US offered F-16 warplanes to Turkey, which had faced sanctions over a Russian military purchase. The US swiftly approved $23 billion in F-16 sales to Turkey after Sweden’s NATO ratification.

Concurrently, $8.6 billion in advanced F-35 jets were greenlit for Greece, a historic adversary of Turkey. Hungary’s approval was the final hurdle for Sweden, with Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s nationalist stance posing a challenge.

On February 26, the Hungarian parliament approved Sweden’s membership. However, a minor setback occurred when Hungary couldn’t sign the accession document because of a temporary absence in the ceremonial presidential post, following the resignation of an Orban ally involved in a controversial pardon.

What is NATO and when was it established?

NATO(the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ), established in 1949 by 12 countries including the US, UK, Canada, and France, aimed to counter Soviet Union expansion, a group of communist states including Russia. Members commit to mutual defense in case of attack.

While NATO lacks its own army, members can jointly respond to crises, coordinate military plans, and conduct exercises. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, NATO identified it as the most significant threat to allies’ security.

What countries belong to NATO?

NATO comprises 31 members from Europe and North America, including the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Turkey. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, several Eastern European countries joined, such as Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

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