NATO membership not for Sweden: Ministers

Sweden's Air Force "Grippen" fighters are seen as they escort a Lithuania's Air Force C-27J plane during NATO joint military exercise in Siauliai April 1, 2014. (Ints Kalnins / REUTERS)
Sweden’s Air Force “Grippen” fighters are seen as they escort a Lithuania’s Air Force C-27J plane during NATO joint military exercise in Siauliai April 1, 2014. (Ints Kalnins / REUTERS)
In spite of closer ties and cooperation over recent years, Sweden will not seek NATO membership, the government stated on Friday.

Foreign Minister Margot Wallström and Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist wrote in newspaper Dagens Nyheter that foregoing Sweden’s tradition of non-alignment would increase tensions in the Baltic region.

“Changing the Swedish security policy doctrine would naturally be perceived as dramatic and revolutionary. It would have a direct effect on the security situation in our part of Europe,” the two ministers wrote. “Sweden’s military non-alignment contributes in a positive sense to the security stability in tour region.”

Later on Friday, the government released a report on the country’s defense and security stance that was carried out as part of an agreement between the center-left government and three opposition parties.

The government-commissioned report, by ambassador Krister Bringéus, pointed the finger squarely at Russia as a security threat for Sweden and the West. It also said that situation would influence Sweden’s defense cooperation with other nations and organizations.

But, speaking at a press conference, Bringéus said a Swedish application to join NATO would likely trigger a diplomatic crisis with Russia. At the same time, membership in the US-Europe defense alliance would likely remove any uncertainty on how an attack would play out and strengthen the West’s overall deterrent capability.

When pressed by reporters for his own thoughts on whether Sweden should join NATO, Bringéus brushed aside the questions, saying his personal opinion wasn’t important and that the NATO question is ultimately one for politicians to answer.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s defence review and the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Finland:  Finnish Air force to take part in joint Finnish-Swedish-US military exercises, Yle News

Norway:  Norway patrolling Russia’s military activity in Arctic with new intelligence vessel, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia:  Paratrooper exercises over Arctic Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden:  National draft may be reintroduced in Sweden by 2019, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. general says Alaska military cuts not final without Arctic plan, Alaska Public Radio Network

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