Sweden officially becomes 32nd member of Nato alliance

Nordic country abandons military neutrality in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Sweden joins Nato amid security concerns over Ukraine war

Sweden joins Nato amid security concerns over Ukraine war
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Sweden officially joined the Nato alliance on Thursday, ending decades of post-Second World War neutrality and becoming the latest country to join the western defence group as a result of Russia's war on Ukraine.

At a ceremony at the US State Department, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson presented Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Sweden's “instrument of accession” documents, the final step in Stockholm's lengthy process to join Nato, which had been held up by Turkey and Hungary.

Mr Kristersson and Mr Blinken described a “historic day” for Sweden and the transatlantic military group, and discussed how Sweden's defence calculus had been radically altered in recent years.

President Joe Biden said in a statement that he was “honoured” to welcome Sweden as Nato's 32nd ally.

“When [Russian President Vladimir] Putin launched his brutal war of aggression against the people of Ukraine, he thought he could weaken Europe and divide Nato,” he said.

“Instead, in May 2022, Sweden and Finland – two of our close partners, with two highly capable militaries – made the historic decision to apply for full Nato membership.”

Sweden, along with Finland, had practised a form of Nordic state military neutrality after the Cold War, but the nations both grew defensive in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Finland was accepted into Nato last year. Sweden's membership had been held up by objections from Nato members Turkey and Hungary.

Turkey expressed concern that Sweden was harbouring and not taking enough action against Kurdish groups it regards as terrorists, and Hungary's populist President Viktor Orban has shown pro-Russian sentiment and not shared the alliance’s determination to support Ukraine.

“With the addition of Sweden today, Nato stands more united, determined, and dynamic than ever – now 32 nations strong,” Mr Biden said.

The President invited Mr Kristersson to be a guest at his State of the Union address at the US Capitol later on Thursday.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin also placed blame on Mr Putin's Russia for creating the need to join the security alliance.

“Sweden’s decision is another reminder that Putin’s war is not the result of Nato enlargement – it is the cause of Nato enlargement,” he said in a statement.

For example, Article 5 in Nato's founding treaty requires that every member has to come to an ally's aid if an attack takes place on its soil.

It has only been utilised once in the group's history, following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Sweden's role will be appreciated and respected.

“Sweden’s accession makes Nato stronger, Sweden safer and the whole Alliance more secure,” he said in a statement.

“Today’s accession demonstrates that Nato's door remains open and that every nation has the right to choose its own path.”

Updated: March 08, 2024, 8:11 AM