On Monday, Sweden confirmed it intends to apply for NATO membership, joining neighboring Finland in a dramatic decision that marks one of the biggest strategic consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to date.
“There is a broad majority in Sweden’s parliament for Sweden to join NATO,” the prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, said on Monday. “This is the best thing for Sweden’s security. We will inform NATO that we want to become a member of the alliance.”
Andersson told a press conference following a parliamentary debate that Sweden would be “in a vulnerable position” while the application was being processed, but that she felt “confident that there is support for this among the Swedish people.”
On Sunday, the Finnish government confirmed its intention to join NATO while Andersson’s ruling Social Democrats agreed to drop their longstanding opposition to the idea, paving the way for membership applications within days.
The NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has said the countries would be “welcomed with open arms,” and their accession would be quick
although Turkish objections could delay the process, which requires unanimity among members.
Russia is furious with the decision by Sweden, Finland to join NATO
The decision by the two governments, both of which have remained neutral or non-aligned since the end of the second world war, drew a critical initial response from Russia, which described it as a serious mistake with far-reaching consequences.
“The situation is, of course, changing radically in light of what is happening,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said on Monday. “The fact that Finland and Sweden’s security will not be strengthened as a result of this is very clear to us.”
Ryabkov added that the two Nordic nations “should have no illusions that we will simply put up with it,” warning that the move was “another grave mistake with far-reaching consequences” and the “general level of military tension will increase.”
The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, also said on Monday that Moscow would “follow very carefully what will be the consequences” of the Nordic nations’ move “for our security, which must be ensured in an absolutely unconditional manner.”
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said Russia did not see Finnish and Swedish NATO membership as a direct threat in itself but warned that deployment of military infrastructure in their territories “would certainly provoke our response.”