Sweden to formally apply for NATO membership, says premier

NATO membership best way to protect Sweden’s security in light of fundamentally changed security environment, says statement.

Sweden to formally apply for NATO membership, says premier

Sweden has decided to formally apply for NATO membership, the country’s prime minister announced on Monday.

“We will inform NATO that we want to join the alliance," Magdalena Andersson told a press conference in the Swedish capital Stockholm.

An official statement said "NATO membership is the best way to protect Sweden’s security in light of the fundamentally changed security environment" following Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began in February.

The policy choice was also the subject of a special debate in the Riksdag, the country's parliament, and the decision was supported by a broad majority.

It is based on a security analysis, which was presented in a report on May 13, the readout added.

The document concluded that Swedish NATO membership “would raise the threshold for military conflicts and thus have a deterrent effect in northern Europe.”

“If both Sweden and Finland were NATO members, all Nordic and Baltic countries would be covered by collective defense guarantees,” it said.

Earlier, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde called it "A historic day for Sweden."

"With a broad support from political parties in the parliament, the conclusion is that Sweden will stand stronger together with allies in NATO,” she tweeted.

The decision came a day after Finland also announced to launch its bid to become part of the military alliance, abandoning decades of military non-alignment. The membership needs to be approved by all 30 members of the alliance.

It is expected that Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto will pay an official visit to Sweden on Tuesday, and both countries plan to jointly apply for NATO membership.

Moscow has repeatedly warned the move would have destabilizing consequences for security in Europe.

President Vladimir Putin said Monday that Moscow “does not have a problem” with Sweden or Finland, but that “the expansion of military infrastructure onto this territory will certainly provoke our response.”

Hüseyin Demir