Now that Turkey has caved in, Sweden’s NATO membership is within reach. What does the Western military alliance expect from accession? And what does Sweden itself expect?
Like Finland, Sweden applied to join NATO last year after the Russian military aggression against Ukraine started. But while Finland is already a member of the Western defense alliance, Turkey has so far used its veto power against Sweden and, together with Hungary, has blocked the Scandinavian country’s accession. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dropped his resistance on Monday, and Sweden’s timely accession is within reach. For this reason, public opinion asks: What do NATO and Sweden expect from this?
What would Sweden’s accession to NATO bring in geographical terms?
Sweden’s accession would make the entire Baltic Sea coastline, with the exception of the Russian coast and its enclave of Kaliningrad, NATO territory. In the event of a Russian attack, for example, the Baltic States would be easier to defend: troops and equipment could reach Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania much more easily by ship via Sweden. The island of Gotland also plays an important role. Simon Koschut, Chair of International Security Policy at the Zeppelin University of Friedrichshafen, explains: “With this large island in the middle of the Baltic Sea, Sweden has an extremely favorable strategic base. From there, she can control practically the entire Baltic Sea ». According to the expert,
And the Swedish army?
The Swedish army and its equipment would also make a valuable contribution to NATO. It is indeed a small country and, consequently, has a rather small army in terms of strength: 38,000 members, according to the Global Firepower Index. But ‘the Swedes have a very modern army, especially a modern self-produced air force. And they are already seasoned in a thousand battles, ” the expert Simón Koschut affirms. For example, he says, they have already participated in several NATO missions, such as in Afghanistan. Sweden spends around 1.3% of its gross domestic product on defense, a significantly higher number than a few years ago, and the proportion is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. Although after the end of the Cold War, the Swedes, like many Western countries,
What would be the biggest advantages of NATO membership for Sweden?
Sweden and NATO already work closely together in many respects. However, a crucial change for Sweden in the event of joining NATO is found in Article 5 of the Alliance Treaty. According to it, an armed attack against a NATO country is considered an attack against all. The military alliance agrees to assist in such a case. “This protection is crucial for Sweden,” says Koschut, a political scientist. Apart from that, the Swedes would then also be equal members of the NATO Council, the defense alliance’s main decision-making body, and would have the right of veto there: a right that Turkey had used to block the Scandinavian country’s accession.