Trading neutrality for Atlantic unity, Sweden may swing to insecurity-Xinhua

Trading neutrality for Atlantic unity, Sweden may swing to insecurity

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-03-13 03:58:15

This photo taken on March 11, 2024 shows a flag raising ceremony for Sweden's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. (Xinhua/Zhao Dingzhe)

In Sweden, the country's new NATO membership has sparked concerns.

STOCKHOLM/BRUSSELS, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Sweden had its national flag rise on Monday at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels, marking its position as the military alliance's 32nd member.

Will more military allies and spending make Sweden or the Nordic region as safe as expected? A question mark remains as concerns are rising among the Swedish population and some parties.


Sweden has abandoned its long-standing non-aligned military policy to join NATO and its defense policy is bound to change significantly as a result, some analysts said.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has promised to significantly boost the country's military budget to reach NATO's requirement of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.

Additionally, the United States and other NATO countries may increase their military presence in Sweden in the future, the Swedish News Agency said in a recent article.

More foreign troops, ships and aircraft will enter Sweden and Swedish conscripts may also be sent abroad to participate in NATO exercises, the article added.

Last December, Sweden and the United States signed a defense cooperation agreement that opened up access to Sweden's 17 military bases and military training grounds to U.S. forces.

People take part in a protest against Sweden hosting a large international military exercise and the country striving to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Stockholm, Sweden, on April 22, 2023. (Photo by Patrick Ekstrand/Xinhua)


In Sweden, the country's new NATO membership has sparked considerable concern. Many people said it would not bring lasting peace to Sweden but is more likely to lead the country into wars and conflicts. Nuclear weapons may also be deployed within Sweden's territory.

Swedish radio said that if a conflict breaks out on NATO's present northern border, foreign troops, weapons and ammunition will enter Swedish territory, increasing the risk that the country itself will become a target.

Hakan Svenneling, a parliament member from Sweden's Left Party, said, "We are now at risk of being drawn into wars and conflicts of others."

At a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday, Ulf Kristersson said Sweden does not see the need to establish permanent NATO military bases or deploy nuclear weapons on its territory in peacetime. However, as a full member state, Sweden fully understands "the need for all NATO's defense capabilities, including the nuclear strategy."

"In this current situation, we consider it very important that nuclear weapons are not deployed on Swedish territory," said Daniel Hellden, a spokesman for Sweden's Green Party.

He said his party "wished Sweden had not joined NATO," but that it is now time to set limits on the alliance.

A military member prepares to hoist the national flag of Sweden during a flag raising ceremony for Sweden's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 11, 2024. (Xinhua/Zhao Dingzhe)

Vladimir Zharikhin, deputy director of the Commonwealth of Independent States Institute, said that Sweden's membership of the military alliance provides NATO with a platform to further threaten Russia.

Sweden has reaped huge rewards in international affairs from pursuing a policy of neutrality, Zharikhin said, and trading this position for so-called Atlantic unity is "a short-sighted act."


Analysts believe that Sweden's accession to NATO will further escalate the disputes between Russia and the West and deteriorate the security situation in Europe.

The New York Times has reported that Sweden and Finland's accession has greatly strengthened NATO's deterrence in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. Meanwhile, the French weekly Express said in an article that the two countries' accession will further compress Russia's strategic space.

In response to NATO's northern expansion, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in late February approving the re-establishment of Moscow and Leningrad military districts to strengthen Russia's northwestern military forces.

 Military vehicles run on the road near the crash site of a military transport aircraft in Russian border city of Belgorod, Jan. 25, 2024. (Xinhua/Bai Xueqi)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also said a few days ago that Russia will deploy additional weaponry in these two new districts to counter the security threat posed by the accession of Sweden and Finland.

In a recent article published on the news website of Eurasia Review, Syed Raiyan Amir, a researcher at the Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs, said that the United States may enhance its military presence along Russia's periphery. This would escalate the situation to unprecedented levels, leading to surges in defense budgets for all involved, Amir said. "And this is the tip of the ice only." 


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