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Milestone: Sweden joins NATO

The Swedish flag was raised at NATO headquarters in Brussels on 11 March to mark the country's accession to the alliance as its 32nd member on 7 March. (NATO)

NATO welcomed Sweden as its 32nd member on 7 March. The Scandinavian country had intended to join together with Finland, but Turkey and Hungary blocked Swedish accession until the Grand National Assembly of Turkey approved it on 23 January, followed by the Hungarian parliament on 26 February.

Response to Russia

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership on 18 May 2022 and were invited to join the alliance by the Madrid summit of allied leaders on 4 July 2022. Finland joined NATO on 4 April 2023.

As Enhanced Opportunities Partners under NATO's Partnership Interoperability Initiative, Finland and Sweden were able to skip joining the alliance's Membership Action Plan that has been required of the most recent countries to become NATO members, reflecting the fact that the two Nordic countries are more interoperable with allies than some NATO countries.

Before the flag-raising ceremony on 11 March, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a press conference at the alliance's political headquarters, “Joining NATO is good for Sweden, good for stability in the North, and good for the security of our whole alliance. Sweden has long been a partner. Now you are an ally with all the benefits and responsibilities that this brings. Sweden has cutting-edge capabilities, first-class armed forces and defence industry, and spends more than 2% of GDP on defence.”

Stoltenberg noted, “Swedish troops are taking part in ‘Steadfast Defender', NATO's biggest military exercise since the Cold War, a demonstration of our unity and our resolve.”

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