If Sweden decides to become a member of NATO, the alliance is ready to ramp up its military presence in the Baltic Sea and along the country’s borders during the initial application phase, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Swedish public broadcaster SVT.
Along with neighboring Finland, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its earlier annexation of Crimea in 2014 caused Sweden to rethink past security policies that kept it from becoming a formal member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The application process could last a year until all other countries in the alliance sign off on the deal.
Reuters has reported that Sweden and NATO asked for security assurances in the meantime.
“From the potential moment Sweden is applying, and NATO says that they want Sweden to join, there is a very strong obligation from NATO to be able to guarantee Sweden’s security,” Mr. Stoltenberg told SVT, according to Reuters. “I am convinced that we will find solutions for the security needs Sweden will have in a transitional period.”
Sweden and Finland are expected to make a decision later this month about whether they would apply to join NATO. Moscow has warned both countries of “serious consequences” if that happens, including threatening to deploy nuclear weapons in the Russian-controlled European enclave of Kaliningrad.