Joining NATO would further destabilize Ukraine situation – Sweden

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The prime minister warns nation against trying to join NATO amid Ukraine conflict

Swedish PM Magdalena Andersson has warned that submitting an application to join NATO at this time would “further destabilize the situation in Europe.” She made the comment during a press conference on Tuesday, implying that further steps toward joining NATO would have a “negative impact” on the security situation in Ukraine.

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NATO Secretary's meets with the foreign ministers of Finland and Sweden. © Dursun Aydemir / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
NATO strengthens cooperation with Finland and Sweden

While Andersson described Russia’s actions in Ukraine as “an increasingly brutal and indiscriminate warfare that affects civilians,” denouncing the conflict as “illegal” and calling for violence against civilians to stop “immediately,” she did not seem interested in further entangling Sweden in the conflict. Stockholm has successfully delivered military equipment, she explained, and appears to be looking for further ways to support Kiev – such as strengthening its resistance to cyber-attacks – that don’t run the risk of directly involving the nation in hostilities.

Sweden and Finland recently wrote a joint letter to the other member of the EU reminding them of the common defense clause within the Treaty of Lisbon, which requires EU countries to provide mutual support and assistance “should a Member State be subjected to an armed attack on its territory.”

The clause serves the same purpose as NATO’s Article 5, which declares that an attack on one NATO state is considered an attack on all members and will be retaliated against accordingly.

Sweden’s center-right opposition parties have long sought NATO membership for the country, a move the governing Social Democrats have historically opposed. While Andersson acknowledged on Saturday that the “security situation” had been “altered in a dramatic way,” and NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has hinted the door is open to a quick accession to the alliance, no public plans have been made to join.

Andersson declined on Tuesday to answer questions regarding how Sweden’s opinion on NATO membership would change if Finland joined, however. While Sweden’s neighbor has expressed renewed interest in becoming part of the alliance, with a quorum of citizens signing a petition to bring the question of membership before Parliament last week, the majority of Finnish MPs questioned by local media on Tuesday declined to go on record with their opinions about entering NATO.

READ MORE: Finland NATO initiative cracks vote threshold

EU nations, including Sweden, were placed on a list of “unfriendly countries” by Russia on Monday after the bloc imposed a sweeping sanctions regime on Moscow following the offensive in Ukraine. 

Andersson noted that the designation would likely have “consequences” for the Swedish economy. In addition to the EU and Five Eyes countries, the list includes Iceland, South Korea, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, Montenegro, San Marino, and Taiwan.

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