Sweden will be applying to join NATO, reversing decades of security policy, Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson announced on Monday.
The EU member, which remained neutral throughout the Cold War, has rapidly reappraised its position in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It will be joining Finland formally announced its bid to join NATO last week.
“The government has decided to inform NATO that Sweden wants to become a member of the alliance. Sweden’s NATO ambassador will shortly inform NATO,” said Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
Andersson said she expects it “shouldn’t take more than a year” for the alliance’s 30 members to ratify Sweden’s membership application.
Turkey has expressed reservations about Sweden and Finland joining the alliance, citing what it calls “terrorism” concerns in the Nordic countries, a reference to the states often granting asylum to Kurds from Turkey in the past.
However, Ms Andersson stressed that Sweden did not want permanent Nato bases or nuclear weapons on its territory.
In responding to Sweden and Finland’s possible accession to NATO, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday, that it does not represent an immediate threat to Russia but the expansion of the alliance’s military infrastructure will “certainly” prompt a response from Moscow.
Speaking at the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s summit in the Kremlin, Putin said that further NATO enlargement “is a problem that has been created completely artificially, since it is being done in the foreign policy interests of the United States.”
He added that the military bloc has been routinely used as a foreign policy instrument of one country – the US, but “quite persistently, skillfully and very aggressively.”
“Russia has no problems with these states, and in this sense, the (NATO) expansion through the accession of these countries does not create an immediate threat for Russia. But the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory will certainly provoke our response,” Putin asserted.
He said the nature of Moscow’s response would depend on the particular threat posed by NATO.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur