Sweden formally joins Nato military alliance

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Sweden applied to join the military alliance after Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine

Sweden has officially become NATO’s 32nd member after completing its accession process in Washington.

The handover of the documents took place at a ceremony two years after Sweden signed up to join the military alliance following Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said “unity and solidarity” would be Sweden’s “guiding lights”.

Today, NATO is “stronger than ever,” US President Joe Biden said.

“NATO stands more united, determined and dynamic,” the US leader said, adding that “NATO, together with our newest ally Sweden, will continue to stand for freedom and democracy for generations to come.”

“This was a small road, but we knew from day one that we would be here one day,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reported on X that Sweden brings “capable armed forces and a first-class defense industry” and that the alliance has become “stronger and more secure.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also welcomed Sweden’s accession to NATO, saying that “a country in Europe is more protected from Russian evil.”

Russia has promised to take unspecified political and military measures in response to the Swedish action.

Sweden applied to join the defense alliance after Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in 2022, but its request was blocked by two members.

Turkey initially withheld approval in a row over what it called Swedish support for Kurdish separatists. It finally lifted its veto in January this year.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban accused Sweden of being hostile to the proposal and delayed its approval until last week, when the Hungarian parliament finally voted to ratify the bid.

All NATO members are expected to help an ally under attack.

Mr. Blinken recalled Sweden’s two-hundred-year policy of non-alignment, which lasted until Russia invaded Ukraine, and said NATO’s expansion was not “predestined” or “foreseeable.”

Mr Kristersson said: “We are humble, but we are also proud. We will meet all expectations.”

“We share burdens, responsibilities and risks with other allies.”

He added that the security situation in the region had not been this serious since World War II, adding that Sweden had joined NATO both to provide security and to gain security.

Finland formally joined in April last year, doubling the length of the alliance’s border with Russia.

A flag-raising ceremony to mark Sweden’s accession will take place at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday.

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