Daily Management Review

Sweden Rethinks Security As The Conflict In Ukraine Leads It To Join NATO


Sweden Rethinks Security As The Conflict In Ukraine Leads It To Join NATO
Two years after Russia's invasion of Ukraine prompted it to reconsider its national security strategy and come to the conclusion that membership in the alliance was the Scandinavian country's greatest assurance of safety, Sweden joined NATO on Thursday in Washington.
Ulf Kristersson, the prime minister of Sweden, delivered the last set of documents to the American administration on Thursday. This was the last stage in a protracted process to get everyone's support for joining the military alliance.
"Good things come to those who wait," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said as he received Sweden's accession documents from Kristersson.
Blinken claimed that during Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, "everything changed," citing polls that revealed a sharp shift in the Swedish public's stance towards NATO membership.
"Swedes realized something very profound: that if Putin was willing to try to erase one neighbor from the map, then he might well not stop there."
The inclusion of Sweden and Finland to NATO, which has a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border with Russia, represents the alliance's biggest growth in decades. Additionally, it is a setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has worked to stop the alliance from getting stronger.

The collective defence guarantee of the alliance, which views an attack on one member as an attack on all, will be advantageous to Sweden.
"Sweden is a safer country today than we were yesterday. We have allies. We have backing," Kristersson said in an address to the Swedish nation from Washington. "We have taken out an insurance in the Western defence alliance."
Regarding the accession, Hakan Yucel, a 54-year-old IT worker in the Swedish capital, stated: "Previously, we were outside and felt a little bit alone. I believe that Russia will now pose much less of a threat."
Adding Sweden to NATO made it "more united, determined, and dynamic than ever," according to a statement from US President Joe Biden. He also noted that Finland and Sweden's memberships added "two highly capable militaries."
In addition to providing NATO forces with state-of-the-art submarines and a substantial fleet of fighter jets built domestically, Sweden is an essential bridge between the Atlantic and Baltic.
"Sweden’s accession makes NATO stronger, Sweden safer and the whole Alliance more secure," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.
In retaliation for Sweden's action, Russia has promised to conduct "political and military-technical counter-measures" that are not yet known.
According to Barbara Kunz, a researcher at the defence think tank SIPRI, "joining NATO is really like buying insurance, at least as long as the United States is actually willing to be the insurance provider."
While Stockholm has been moving closer to NATO over the past 20 years, the country's decision to join signifies a significant departure from its historical practice of remaining neutral during times of conflict and avoiding military alliances for more than 200 years.
It gained a reputation as a global advocate of human rights following World War II, and with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, administrations have reduced military spending.
Only a few months after its military minister had just denied NATO membership in 2021, the Social Democratic government of the time applied along with Finland, a neighbour.

Carl Fredrik Aspegren, 28, a Stockholm student, said, "I guess (Sweden) had to take a stance really and I'm happy that we actually did and that we are safeguarded by NATO, because the tension with Russia has been growing for a couple of years."
Finland became a member of the alliance last year, but Sweden was kept waiting because ratifying Sweden's membership was delayed by Turkey and Hungary, both of whom have friendly connections with Russia.
Sweden's application was accepted by Turkey in January.
Hungary postponed making a judgement on Sweden's admission until after Kristersson's goodwill visit to Budapest on February 23, during which the two nations finalised an agreement to sell fighter jets.