Swedish opposition party may change stance on NATO — Analysis
According to reports, the leader of Sweden Democrats says that he would advocate for joining Western military blocs if Finland seeks membership
A key opposition party in Sweden will reportedly look to switch its stance on whether the country should join NATO if neighboring Finland applies for membership, potentially clearing the way for legislation calling to end the country’s long history of military neutrality.
Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson told Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet on Saturday that he’s considering a change in stance on NATO membership in light of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Akesson said that Finland could join the Brussels-based alliance if his party does so.
Akesson stated that Finland could apply if Finland did. “then my ambition is to go to the party council with a request that we change our mind. What’s changed now is that Finland is very clearly moving toward a NATO membership, and there are many indications that this may happen in the near future. That, and the fact Ukraine, which is not a NATO member, is completely alone, has made me turn.”
Sweden Democrats is the country’s second-largest opposition party, and a change in its stance toward NATO would likely create a parliamentary majority in support of joining the Western bloc. Although most people in Sweden and Finland are opposed to NATO membership, polling indicates that the public’s opinion has changed significantly since Russia started its military intervention in Ukraine.
Finland’s government is scheduled to give the country’s parliament a review on possible NATO accession later this month. Sweden and Finland will likely be welcome to the alliance. “relatively quick way”Last week, NATO Secretary General Jens Steltenberg stated that they could apply to be members if they so choose.
Even though they are EU-members, Sweden, Finland, and Estonia have kept out NATO. They also maintain a neutral militarily. Since 1814, Sweden has remained out of all wars. This is a century after its last costly confrontation with Russia. Finland shares 1,340 km (832 miles) of land borders with Russia. Since the end World War II, Finland has maintained its neutrality.
The Ukraine crisis has forced Sweden and Finland into a rethinking of their NATO membership status. However, Russia joining NATO could increase the risk of war with them. Moscow argues that NATO’s failure to expand eastward following the Cold War in 1991 has undermined Russian security.
Ukraine’s bid to join the alliance heightened those security concerns, contributing to the decision to invade. NATO has already expanded to 30 members from 16 since the Cold War ended, extending its reach to Russia’s doorstep.