Published On: Thu, Feb 29th, 2024

Sweden ‘on its toes’ after Russia makes thinly-veiled threats over NATO membership | World | News

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Russia‘s threats against his country after Hungary’s approval of Sweden‘s membership to NATO leaves him on “his toes”.

Sweden’s bid to join NATO — held up for almost two years — cleared its last hurdle when Hungary gave its go-ahead Monday to let the Nordic country into the alliance.

It brought an end to more than 18 months of delays by the nationalist government in Budapest that have frustrated Hungary’s allies.

All existing NATO countries must give their approval before a new member can join the alliance. Hungary was the only hold-out.

Reacting to the news, the Russian embassy in Stockholm wrote on Telegram on Tuesday: “(Sweden’s) entry into a military alliance hostile to Russia will have negative consequences for stability in Northern Europe and around the Baltic Sea, which remains our common area and will never become a ‘NATO hinterland’, whatever self-righteous statements Sweden’s future ‘NATO relatives’ may make.

Russia will take countermeasures of a political and military-technical nature to minimise threats to its national security. Their concrete content will depend on the conditions and extent of Sweden’s integration into NATO, including the possible deployment of NATO troops, ammunition and weapons in the country.”

Swedish leader Kristersson responded: “It is well known that Russia does not like the fact that neither Sweden nor Finland will become NATO members, but it is we who decide our choices.

“Cyber attacks and attempts at influence are already taking place.”

He added: “We are on our toes, we are well equipped, and we see what they are doing.”

Both Sweden and Finland, which joined the military alliance last year, had already developed strong ties with NATO after the end of the Cold War, but public opinion remained firmly against full membership until the war in Ukraine.

Nonalignment was seen as the best way to avoid tensions with Russia, their powerful neighbour in the Baltic Sea region. But the Russian aggression caused a dramatic shift in both countries, with polls showing a surge in support for NATO membership.

Political parties in both Finland and Sweden decided they needed the security guarantees that only come with full membership in the US-led alliance.

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