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Sweden Officially Becomes a Member of NATO

Sweden joins NATO at ceremony in the US presided over by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.
Sweden joins NATO at ceremony in the US presided over by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. Credit: Sweden’s Government Offices / Tom Samuelson

Sweden, a historically neutral country, has officially become the thirty-second member of NATO and the second country to join the Western military alliance since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Stockholm’s ratification process was finally completed in Washington today, on Thursday, March 7th, as Sweden and Hungary, the last nation to ratify the Scandinavian country’s membership, submitted the required paperwork after a drawn-out process which has taken nearly two years.

The accession marks the end of a 20-month long wait for Sweden after the country submitted its application to join in May 2022 alongside Finland, prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of that year. Finland became the thirty-first member of NATO last year.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said that “unity and solidarity” would be Sweden’s “guiding lights” with US President Joe Biden saying that NATO today “is stronger than ever.” As reported by BBC, Biden added that “NATO stands more united, determined, and dynamic. Together with our newest ally Sweden, NATO will continue to stand for freedom and democracy for generations to come.”

“This has been a little bit of a road but we’ve known from day one that we would be here one day,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg posted on X that Sweden brings with it “capable armed forces and a first-class defense industry” and that the alliance had become “stronger and safer.”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly also welcomed the finalization of Stockholm’s ratification, saying, “One more country in Europe has become more protected from Russian evil.”

Russia has vowed to take unspecified political and military measures in response to Sweden’s move.

Accession to NATO Marks Historic Change for Sweden

Accession also marks a historic change in Sweden’s national and international identity, as it moves the country away from the neutrality that began at the end of the Cold War and has so often characterized the country. Furthermore, ratification cements NATO’s control of the Nordic region, with all countries now members, also making the Baltic an entirely NATO sea.

The process came to its conclusion at around 5:30 PM Swedish time, when Kristersson and Blinken presided at a ceremony wherein Sweden’s “instrument of accession” to the military alliance was officially deposited at the state department. “Good things come to those who wait. No better example,” said Blinken.

“Today is a truly historic day. Sweden is now a member of NATO,” Kristersson said. “We are humble but we are also proud. Unity and solidarity will be a guiding light. Sweden is now leaving 200 years of neutrality and military non-alignment behind. it is a major step but a very natural step.”

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