Sweden officially becomes 32nd member of NATO

WASHINGTON – Sweden officially became NATO’s 32nd member as the US received accession instruments Thursday.

It came almost two years after Sweden applied to join the military alliance following the start of the Russian war on Ukraine in February 2022.

“Good things come to those who wait,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the State Department after receiving accession instruments. He was joined by Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom.

“This is a historic moment for Sweden. This is historic for our alliance. It’s historic for the transatlantic relationship,” said Blinken. “Our NATO alliance, or defensive alliance is now stronger and larger than it’s ever been.”

He said “there’s also no clearer example than today of the strategic debacle” of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Kristersson said Sweden is leaving 200 years of neutrality and military non-alignment behind and called his country’s ascension a “major step but at the same time a very natural step.”

“The security situation in our region has not been this serious since the Second World War,” he said. “Russia will stay a serious threat to the Euro Atlantic security for the foreseeable future.”

“It was in this light Sweden applied to join NATO,” he added.

Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership in May 2022, abandoning their long-standing non-alignment policies, a decision spurred by Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Finland, which shares a 1,340-kilometer (832-mile) border with Russia, became a member of NATO on April 4, 2023, becoming the 31st member of NATO.

Sweden completed its membership procedures after Hungary became the last NATO member to ratify the country’s membership last week, and instruments of ratification were sent Thursday to Washington. Türkiye approved Sweden’s NATO membership bid in January.

Sweden’s flag will be raised alongside the other 31 members in a ceremony Monday at NATO headquarters in Brussels to mark the accession. (Anadolu)