Published On: Fri, Mar 8th, 2024

NATO forces gain world-leading firepower as Sweden joins alliance | UK | News


Sweden officially abandoned its neutral stance and became the 32nd member of NATO on March 7. The last step of the ratification process took place in Washington, after Sweden and Hungary submitted the necessary documents.

Ulf Kristersson, Sweden’s Prime Minister, announced the historic moment with a post on X, reading: “Sweden is now a NATO member. Thank you all Allies for welcoming us as the 32nd member.

“We will strive for unity, solidarity and burden-sharing, and will fully adhere to the Washington Treaty values: freedom, democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. Stronger together.”

This ratification is remarkable as it changes the fabric of Sweden’s identity, as the country had maintained neutrality since the end of the Cold War.

Moreover, it further strengthened the eastern flank of NATO in the face of an increasingly aggressive Russia.

Following the Swedish accession to the Western military alliance, the Baltic Sea is now under full control of NATO. Alongside providing NATO with a geopolitical boost, Sweden’s accession also increases the military power of the alliance.

Despite spending only 1.54 percent of its GDP on defence in 2023, Sweden has developed over the years a world-class military-industrial complex, producing among other weapons anti-tank weapons including AT4, the RBS15 anti-ship missiles, Saab JAS 39 Gripen single-engine supersonic fighters as well as Carl Gustav recoilless rifles.

The Nordic country also collaborated with other military producers to create, for example, the Swedish version of the German Leopard 2 tank – the Stridsvagn 122.

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Sweden brings to NATO a well-equipped army counting 14,850 people on active duties, 21,500 volunteers and 11,450 reserves.

Upon presiding over the ceremony on Thursday afternoon, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “Good things come to those who wait. No better example.”

Mr Blinken’s remark referred to the nearly two-year-long wait endured by the Nordic country to be able to access the alliance.

Despite Sweden and Finland applying for NATO membership at the same time, Helsinki’s path was much smoother and quicker, and ended with its accession in 2023.

On the other hand, Turkey and Hungary slowed down NATO’s process of gaining its 32nd member.

While the opposition of the former was linked to Sweden’s stance on members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the sale of Lockheed Martin aircraft and modernisation kits to Ankara, the latter often didn’t provide details on why it was dragging its feet, with some analysts believing the opposition was due to Viktor Orban’s ties with Russia.

The Hungarian Parliament eventually ratified Sweden’s membership status last month, after Mr Kirstersson visit to Budapest and a deal that will see Mr Orban’s country acquire four more Gripen C fighter aircraft and another 10 years of support and logistics for its existing fleet.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Sweden into the alliance saying in a statement: “This is a historic day. Sweden will now take its rightful place at NATO’s table, with an equal say in shaping Nato policies and decisions. After over 200 years of non-alignment Sweden now enjoys the protection granted under Article 5, the ultimate guarantee of allies’ freedom and security.”



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