NATO’s strategy after Hungary approves Sweden’s membership

(VOVWORLD) - On February 26th the Hungarian Parliament approved Sweden's application to join NATO, clearing the last obstacle for Sweden. With Sweden's membership, NATO has placed the final piece of the puzzle and can now pursue more ambitious goals.


The Hungarian Parliament ratified Sweden’s NATO application by a vote of 188 to 6, ending a debate that has gone on since May, 2022.  Hungary was the last NATO member to approve Sweden's application.

The final piece of the puzzle

With support from all 31 NATO members, Sweden will become the 32nd NATO ally. The official admission of Sweden is likely to be announced at the NATO Summit in July in Washington, DC.

This is a historic event for Sweden. In joining NATO Sweden has abandoned the neutral, non-aligned policy which it has maintained for two centuries. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said it was a natural choice given the current geopolitical instability in Europe.

“Sweden is leaving 200 years of neutrality and nonalignment behind us. It is a big step, which must be taken seriously. But it is also a very natural step that we are taking. NATO membership means that Sweden has found a new home within a large number of democracies which work together for peace and freedom,” said Kristersson.

Sweden's decision to abandon its long-standing foreign and security policy to join NATO has received the support of the majority of its population. Public opinion polls in Sweden have shown that since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began in February, 2022, about two-thirds of its people have supported joining NATO, much higher than the 20-30% support between 2014 and 2022.

Robert Dalsjo, senior analyst at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, says joining NATO was Sweden’s final step in abandoning its old foreign policy to integrate into a volatile world, leaving its neutral status after the Cold War, then joining the European Union in 1995, and now joining NATO.

Dalsjo said Sweden’s admission will significantly increase NATO’s strength because Sweden has strong defense capabilities, an air force, a navy, and winter combat skills.  Sweden can be seen as the last major piece of NATO in the Euro-Atlantic security space, extending from northern to southern Europe and approaching large, unexplored areas in the Arctic.

“NATO gains a member that is serious and capable and it removes a factor of uncertainty in Northern Europe. The final piece of the puzzle falling into place, making NATO's position in the Nordic-Baltic region whole,” said Dalsjo.

NATO’s larger ambitions

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this is a victory for NATO and a "strategic defeat" for Russia, a country that has always opposed NATO expansion in Europe.

Observers say that the admission of two new members with high economic and military potential – Finland last April and now Sweden – brings significant confidence to NATO and may lead some of its leaders to take bolder steps, first of all in the confrontation with Russia.

At the Munich Security Conference in Germany from February 16-18, Finnish President Alexander Stubb said that Ukraine joining NATO was only a matter of time. NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg and leaders of a number of countries including Poland and the three Baltic countries have repeatedly raised the issue.

At a conference gathering 20 leaders of EU countries in Paris on Monday to discuss support for Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron said that NATO does not rule out a scenario of sending troops to Ukraine.

“Everything was discussed directly and freely. There is still no consensus on sending troops to Ukraine with clear responsibilities. However, with the current momentum, nothing can be ruled out," said Macron.

Despite some internal instability exposed during the process of approving Sweden's accession, especially with respect to Turkey and Hungary, NATO will complete its strategic expansion since the Cold War.

For many years the Nordic region and the Arctic have been considered a weak link in NATO’s defense strategy. NATO might now foster new ambitions, making the security situation in Europe and the world more complicated.

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