Majority of Swedes favor joining NATO: Poll
Sweden has been considering joining NATO for some time against Russia's warnings.
A recent survey found that a majority of Swedes want to join NATO, as Sweden's ruling party prepares to discuss whether to relinquish the country's military non-alignment.
According to the Novus poll, 51% of Swedes support joining the military alliance, the first time that a majority has supported the topic. Last week, a similar poll was conducted and recorded a 45% approval rate.
Russia's military operation in Ukraine has fueled a rise in public support for NATO membership.
Other institutes' surveys have previously indicated a majority in favor of joining, but Novus believes public opinion is now being swayed by the NATO discussion taking place in neighboring Finland, where MPs are debating the topic following the publishing of a security policy white paper last week.
Many observers believe Finland will eventually make a candidacy in time for the NATO meeting in June.
Read more: Finland, Sweden to join NATO by summer: The Times
Last week, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin paid a visit to her Swedish colleague Magdalena Andersson, signaling that the two neighboring nations, both NATO allies but nominally "non-aligned", are marching in lockstep.
Novus chief executive Torbjorn Sjostrom stated that the "Swedish opinion in favor of NATO is increasing because they believe it will be done together with Finland and (people) are then more positive to a Swedish membership."
64% of Swedes questioned said they were in favor of joining if they would be followed by Finland.
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Thursday that she wants to expedite the completion of the parliament's security policy study, which is intended to direct MPs' deliberations.
Linde told Swedish radio station Sveriges Radio that she wants it finished by May 13, rather than May 31, as was previously intended.
Linde stated that "Finland has already published its analysis and there is strong pressure on us to complete our analysis."
Sweden's ruling Social Democrats said last week that an internal discussion on whether Sweden should seek membership will begin.
According to Aftonbladet, sources inside the Social Democrats stated a "marathon meeting" on NATO was planned for Friday, the party's "first major discussion" on the subject.
Finland, Sweden to participate in NATO drills in Arctic, Russia sees risks
Russia is worried about increased NATO activity in the Arctic and sees risks of "unintended incidents" happening in the region, according to TASS, which cited Russian ambassador-at-large Nikolai Korchunov.
Finland and Sweden, which are considering joining the NATO alliance led by Washington, have conducted joint NATO military drills in March.
Earlier, Russia's Foreign Ministry said the choice of joining NATO was up to Finland and Sweden.
"But they should understand the consequences of such a step for our bilateral relations and for the architecture of European security as a whole," Spokesperson Maria Zakharova pointed out in a statement.
The Finnish government hopes to build a parliamentary consensus on the issue over the coming weeks, with MPs due to hear from security experts.
Many analysts predict Finland could submit a bid in time for a NATO summit in June. Any membership bid must be accepted by all 30 NATO states, a process that could take four months to a year.