weden will join Finland in requesting Nato membership, prime minister Magdalena Andersson has confirmed, in a historic move that is likely to infuriate President Vladimir Putin.
Announcing the move at a press conference on Monday, Ms Andersson said that joining the 30-member military alliance was her country’s best defense in the face of Russian behavior.
“Unfortunately, we have no reason to believe that the trend (of Russia’s actions) will reverse in the foreseeable future,” she said.
However, she said there was no direct military threat to Sweden from Russia at the moment.
Sweden’s application to join the alliance would be handed over on Tuesday or Wednesday to synchronise with Finland.
The move ends 200 years of military non-alignment in the Nordic country, which has seen a surge in public support for joining the alliance since the invasion of Ukraine in late February.
The announcement came after a debate in parliament earlier on Monday. Out of Sweden’s eight parties, only two smaller left-leaning parties opposed it.
”The Swedish government’s intent is to apply for NATO membership. A historic day for Sweden,” Foreign Minister Ann Linde wrote on Twitter.
“With a broad support from political parties in the parliament, the conclusion is that Sweden will stand stronger together with allies in NATO.”
Mr Putin played down his frustration over both Nordic countries joining the alliance, despite previous baseless claims that the expansion of Nato posed an existential threat to Russia.
Speaking in Moscow at a summit of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), he branded the expansion of Nato “artificial”, adding that Russia’s response would depend on the expansion of military infrastructure in both countries.
The Kremlin has warned that joining the alliance would provoke a reaction, threatening last month to deploy nuclear weapons in the Baltic region.
Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto told Mr Putin on Sunday that he wished to continue bilateral engagement with Moscow “in a professional manner” but stressed that joining Nato would “maximise” his country’s security.