On Monday, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced that Sweden would formally apply for NATO membership within the next few days. However, the admission process for Sweden and Finland encountered a roadblock when the president of NATO member Turkey declared he would not support either application.
Sweden and Finland require approval from NATO's thirty members for their applications. The ratification procedure was anticipated to take up to a year, but Turkey's objections have cast doubt on that estimate.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Sweden and Finland need not send teams to Ankara to convince Turkey to support their ambitions during a news conference.
Erdogan stated that neither of these nations has a clear, open stance toward terrorist organizations. How can we have faith in them?
He referred to Sweden as a "nursery" for terrorist groups, citing the presence of terrorists in parliament.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has disrupted Europe's security architecture and compelled Sweden and Finland to join NATO after remaining neutral throughout the Cold War.
The government of Sweden's Social Democrats, concerned that the country will be vulnerable while its application is evaluated, had hoped for a quick ratification procedure.
The reservations of Turkey, which NATO leaders first anticipated would not cause a significant delay, now appear to be a substantial impediment.
The foreign minister's spokeswoman declined to respond.
Since the beginning of the Cold War, Finland and Sweden's defense plans had been characterized by a policy of military non-alignment. The decision of Finland and Sweden to apply for membership in NATO set the two countries on a path toward abandoning this policy.
"We are leaving one era behind and entering a new one," Andersson said during a Monday news conference.
She said that Sweden's application may be submitted within a few days and would be coordinated with Finland's.
She stated, "NATO will strengthen Sweden, and Sweden will strengthen NATO."
The decision to renounce military neutrality, a core component of Swedish national identity for two centuries, marks a tidal change in public view in the Nordic region in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
According to Andersson, if its membership is granted, Sweden does not want permanent NATO military sites or nuclear weapons on its soil.
Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the decisions with a moderate statement: "As far as expansion is concerned, including new members Finland and Sweden, Russia has no issues with these states — period."
He did, however, accuse the United States of employing an "aggressive" strategy to exacerbate an already precarious global security situation with the expansion. He stated that Russia would respond if the coalition advanced with weapons or troops.
General Micael Byden, commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, stated at a news conference that the choice to apply was correct from a strategic military standpoint and that protecting Sweden, either solo or in conjunction with other states, would be easier if Sweden were a member of NATO.
"Based on my interactions and relationships with my counterparts, I am aware that Sweden is welcome to join NATO. But not only are we welcome, I also know that Sweden's membership strengthens NATO," Byden remarked.
Sweden has received assurances of support from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and France but no legally enforceable guarantees of military assistance.
Monday, Nordic neighbors Denmark, Norway, and Iceland issued a unified statement of support.