Sweden Officially Joins NATO Alliance

Sweden’s flag was raised at NATO headquarters in Brussels for the first time last Monday after the country officially became the 32nd member of the alliance two years after the Russian invasion of Ukraine persuaded the once neutral country to join NATO, the Associated Press reported.

Monday’s flag-raising ceremony was attended by several Swedish ministers and political leaders, including Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria and Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, as well as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Prime Minister Kristersson said at the ceremony that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had left his country united “behind the conclusion” that full NATO membership was its “only reasonable choice.”

Sweden formally joined the alliance on March 7, setting aside its post-World War Two neutrality. Its Scandinavian neighbor Finland was also prompted to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Finland formally joined the alliance in April last year, ending years of nonalignment.

The Finnish Defense Ministry celebrated Sweden’s entry into NATO, saying the two nations now stood “at the beginning of a new era.”

During Monday’s flag-raising, Secretary-General Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine seeking “less NATO” and “more control over his neighbors.” Instead, Stoltenberg said, NATO has grown larger while Ukraine “is closer to NATO than ever before.”

The addition of Sweden to the NATO alliance completes NATO’s strategic ring of the Baltic Sea while offering the country NATO’s Article 5 collective security guarantee that an attack on one member country will be met by a response from all.

Prime Minister Kristersson told reporters before Monday’s ceremony that Sweden knew that NATO’s expectations were high but added that Sweden had the same “high expectations for ourselves.” He said Sweden would share the responsibilities, risks, and burdens along with its NATO allies.

Sweden, unlike some NATO member states, already meets the alliance’s 2 percent defense spending target.