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Smart Take | Sweden Ends Historic Neutrality and Joins NATO

February 27, 20241:53

After more than a year of delays, the Hungarian parliament voted to approve Sweden’s accession to NATO. It was the final hurdle blocking Sweden’s membership. Jason Moyer, Program Associate for the Global Europe Program, talks about this historic change. He covers the symbolism of the alliance's enlargement, what Sweden can contribute to NATO and Baltic Sea security, and how the power dynamics within the alliance will change with two additional Nordic members. Both Finland and Sweden reversed their historic positions of neutrality after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

Video Transcript

  • This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

    Sweden's membership in NATO sends a very clear signal to Vladimir Putin that he gravely miscalculated when he invaded Ukraine. Putin's calculus for invading Ukraine was to prevent further NATO enlargement and to prevent NATO from being along the Russian border. Well, now there are two new NATO's allies. 

    Sweden is a net contributor to allied security. It brings with it a number of advantages that will already benefit the alliance on day one. Sweden has one of the largest air forces in all of Europe. Out of the three 5G infrastructure companies in the world, Two out of the three- One in Finland and one in Sweden- are now in NATO. This is a game changer for Baltic Sea security and ensuring continued peace in the Arctic. 

    Sweden boasts a world class submarine fleet and has over 100 years of experience operating in the shallow Baltic Sea. Currently, US submarines do not have the capabilities to operate in the Baltic Sea. Sweden also brings with it a tremendous amount of Arctic knowhow, which is something that Russia has continued to push as it invests more and more in its Arctic infrastructure and capabilities. 

    Once Sweden is officially a part of NATO, this will be the first time that all of the Nordic countries will be in the same alliance in 500 years. The Nordic countries will represent a substantial bloc within NATO and this will irrevocably change the power dynamics within the NATO alliance. Finland formally joined the NATO alliance in April 2023. Now all that's left for Sweden is to deposit the articles of accsession here in Washington. This is largely a ceremonial step. Hungary’s decision to unblock the  accession process was really the big news item of the week.



Jason C. Moyer

Jason C. Moyer

Program Associate, Global Europe Program
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Global Europe Program

The Global Europe Program is focused on Europe’s capabilities, and how it engages on critical global issues.  We investigate European approaches to critical global issues. We examine Europe’s relations with Russia and Eurasia, China and the Indo-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. Our initiatives include “Ukraine in Europe” – an examination of what it will take to make Ukraine’s European future a reality.  But we also examine the role of NATO, the European Union and the OSCE, Europe’s energy security, transatlantic trade disputes, and challenges to democracy. The Global Europe Program’s staff, scholars-in-residence, and Global Fellows participate in seminars, policy study groups, and international conferences to provide analytical recommendations to policy makers and the media.  Read more