Sweden to follow Finland in applying to join Nato after governing party drops opposition

‘Historic’ move announced hours after neighbour Finland said it intends to apply to join bloc

Lamiat Sabin
Sunday 15 May 2022 20:37
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Finland announces historic decision to join Nato

Sweden is set to follow Finland in applying to join Nato after the country’s ruling Social Democrats party announced on Sunday it was dropping its long-standing opposition to membership of the bloc.

Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson said a formal application to join the military alliance could be made within days, in light of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

At a news conference, she said Sweden would be in a “very vulnerable” position if it did not join, adding: “We believe Sweden needs the formal security guarantees that come with membership in Nato.”

The plan to join the alliance will be discussed in Sweden’s parliament on Monday, after which Ms Andersson’s cabinet will make an announcement.

File photo of Swedish PM Magdalena Andersson [L] and Finnish PM Sanna Marin

During the Second World War, Sweden stayed neutral and has avoided joining military alliances for more than 200 years.

Earlier, its neighbour Finland, which shares a border with Russia, announced its intention to apply to join Nato.

Helsinki is expected to endorse the decision in the coming days, to be followed by the submission of a formal membership application next week, Finnish president Sauli Niinisto said.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said that it would be a “historic moment” if the two Nordic nations applied for membership.

“Their membership in Nato would increase our shared security, demonstrate that Nato’s door is open, and that aggression does not pay,” he said.

Boris Johnson, who visited both countries last week, has said that the UK would strongly support their applications.

Russia sees Nato as a security threat and has warned of “consequences” if the alliance moves further eastward.

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