Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats said on Sunday they backed the country joining NATO, abandoning decades of opposition in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and creating a large parliament majority in favour of membership.
With neighbouring Finland already set to hand in its application, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is now all but certain to enter a formal application within days.
Many Swedish politicians said their support was conditional on Finland joining.
The party board has at its meeting on May 15, 2022 decided that the party will work toward Sweden applying for membership in NATO,’ the Social Democrats said in a statement.
Coming less than three months after Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine on February 24, the move from the two nations is a stunning reversal of their military non-alignment policies – and paves the way for the 30-member Western military alliance to expand.
Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin made their announcement at a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.
The Finnish Parliament is expected to endorse the decision in coming days, but it is considered a formality following a swell in public support for doing so.
A formal membership application will then be submitted to NATO headquarters in Brussels, most likely at the some point next week.
Speaking during a NATO conference in Berlin today, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced confidence that NATO members would support the bid, after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed last-minute objections.