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NATO protection promised to Sweden before membership – media

The US and UK have given Sweden “concrete promises” of military protection between its application to join NATO and its formal acceptance into the alliance, Aftonbladet reported on Monday. Although neutral since the 19th century, Sweden is reportedly preparing to abandon its policy of non-alignment and join the US-led military bloc this year.

Recent reports suggest that Sweden and Finland are preparing to file applications to join the NATO alliance this summer. Politicians in Stockholm have long flirted with the idea, but Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said earlier this month that Europe’s “security landscape has completely changed” following Russia’s military offensive on Ukraine, and that Sweden would reevaluate its neutrality in response.

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Should Sweden apply for membership, the UK and US have promised to provide military protection between application and membership, after which the alliance’s mutual defense clause would come into effect, Aftonbladet reported, citing multiple government sources.

One source said that while NATO members are forbidden from expressing any formal guarantees of protection to non-members, they would still be able to take informal measures like stationing troops in Sweden, hosting military exercises, and offering “political support.” 

In practice, Sweden will be treated as a full-fledged NATO member shortly after a declaration of interest,” the newspaper stated, claiming that the UK has specifically offered to increase its naval presence in Swedish waters during the application process.

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Russia has warned that the inclusion of Sweden and Finland in NATO would have “military and political consequences,” and would threaten stability in Europe. Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president and current deputy chair of the Russian National Security Council, said earlier this month that Russia would have to strengthen its forces in the region in response, and suggested that the Baltic area would not remain “nuclear-free” if the Nordic nations joined NATO.

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