Sweden officially becomes the 32nd member of NATO

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine and two years of negotiations, Sweden officially became Thursday the 32e member of NATO, a major step for the Scandinavian country which thus puts an end to two centuries of neutrality then of military non-alignment.

“All good things come to those who wait,” declared the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken upon receiving from the Swedish government the official documents engraving in stone Sweden’s accession to the Atlantic Alliance.

This step marks “a victory for freedom”, declared Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, traveling to Washington, during this ceremony. The ratification of this accession was obtained through a tough struggle after long negotiations with certain members of the Alliance.

“If we step back and think about where we were three years ago, none of this was predictable,” Antony Blinken said. According to him, “there is no better example than today (to demonstrate) the strategic debacle that its invasion of Ukraine has become for Russia.”

“It’s a historic day. Sweden will now take its rightful place at the NATO table,” its Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. “After 200 years of non-alignment, Sweden now enjoys the protection of Article 5, the total guarantee for the freedom and security” of its members, he added.

NATO is now “stronger than ever,” Joe Biden said in a statement. Russian President Vladimir Putin “wanted to divide” the defense alliance by attacking Ukraine, but the transatlantic organization is on the contrary “more united, determined and dynamic than ever,” the American president said.

Russian countermeasures

On Monday, the blue and yellow flag must be raised in front of NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Russia promised last week to take “countermeasures” in response to Stockholm’s accession, which will depend “on the conditions and extent of Sweden’s integration into NATO.”

Sweden’s accession, following that of Finland last year, means that all countries bordering the Baltic Sea, with the exception of Russia, are now members of the Atlantic Alliance.

Sweden and Finland, although militarily close to the United States through their membership of the European Union, have historically preferred to stay away from the alliance, formed during the Cold War against the Soviet Union. .

Although Sweden contributes to international peacekeeping forces, it has not experienced war since a conflict with Norway in 1814.

“Too many sacrifices”

Helsinki and Stockholm simultaneously announced their candidacy to join NATO in 2022, in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Finland had obtained its accession to the Alliance last April, but Sweden’s accession process was punctuated by negotiations with Turkey, which accused the Scandinavian country of leniency towards Kurdish activists who had taken refuge on its soil, considered to be some as terrorists by Ankara.

Sweden also had to deal with the reluctance of the Hungarian Prime Minister.

Viktor Orban had certainly given his agreement in principle a long time ago but, before completing the process, he demanded “respect” from Stockholm, after years of “denigration” of his policies.

At the end of February, the Hungarian Parliament finally ratified Sweden’s membership in NATO.

According to an SR radio poll broadcast on Friday, a majority of Swedes believe that their country has made “too many sacrifices” to become a member of NATO, while admitting that Sweden’s security has been strengthened with this membership .

Sweden’s accession to NATO was accompanied by a clear hardening of the rhetoric of its leaders, with the commander-in-chief of the Swedish armed forces, Micael Biden, declaring in January that his compatriots “must prepare themselves mentally for the war “.

In addition to its NATO candidacy, Sweden signed an agreement at the beginning of December authorizing the United States to have access to 17 military bases on its soil.

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