| 26 February 2024, Monday |

Swedish PM rejects opposition calls to consider joining NATO

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson rebuffed opposition requests to consider joining NATO in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Tuesday, saying that doing so now would undermine European security.

Sweden has not been at war since 1814 and has founded its foreign policy on non-participation in military alliances, but as tensions with Russia in the Baltic area have increased, it has formed ever deeper links to NATO.

Russia’s incursion, which it describes as a “special military operation,” has reignited demands for Sweden to join NATO, joining Finland, which has also stayed outside the alliance.

“If Sweden were to choose to send in an application to join NATO in the current situation, it would further destabilize this area of Europe and increase tensions,” Andersson told reporters.

“I have been clear during this whole time in saying that what is best for Sweden’s security and for the security of this region of Europe is that the government has a long-term, consistent and predictable policy and that is my continued belief.”

Russia does not want Finland or Sweden to join NATO and late last month, Moscow made its latest warning of “serious military-political consequences” if they did.

Andersson was speaking after meeting opposition party leaders to discuss the worsening security situation.

A poll on Friday by Demoskop and commissioned by Aftonbladet newspaper showed 51% of Swedes were in favor of NATO membership, up from 42% in January. People against joining fell to 27% from 37%. It’s the first time such a poll has shown a majority in favor.

Ulf Kristersson, the leader of the Moderates, called on the government to begin broad domestic political discussions about NATO membership, a debate that has already started in Finland.

Finland and Sweden have close military ties and a move by one to join NATO would put added pressure on the other to apply.

“It is urgent,” Kristersson told news agency TT.

“We can’t get behind a wind-break and hope that it all blows over and then be surprised by a Finnish decision in a month or two.”

  • Reuters