NATO may deploy troops in Sweden before country joins alliance
The Swedish Prime Minister and Defense Minister say the government has decided that its forces may undertake future joint operations with NATO forces.
The Swedish Prime Minister and Defense Minister on Friday confirmed that Sweden may allow NATO to deploy troops on its territory even before it formally joins the US-led military alliance.
"The government has decided that the Swedish Armed Forces may undertake preparations with NATO and NATO countries to enable future joint operations," Kristersson and Jonson indicated in an opinion piece in the daily Dagens Nyheter.
"The preparations may consist of temporary basing of foreign equipment and personnel on Swedish territory. The decision sends a clear signal to Russia and strengthens Sweden's defence," they pointed out.
They considered that for the foreseeable future, Russia would "remain a threat" against neighboring countries, adding that they were uncertain of the extent of Russian President Vladimir Putin's alleged "territorial ambitions".
Ending two centuries of neutrality and military non-alignment, Sweden and neighboring Finland announced bids to join NATO in May 2022, in the wake of the war in Ukraine.
While Sweden's bid still faces opposition, Finland managed to become the 31st member of NATO on April 4.
Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO member states yet to ratify Sweden's bid -- which requires unanimous ratification.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Stockholm of being a haven for "terrorists", especially members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), while Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban indicated that Hungary-Sweden relations are strained and must improve before the Nordic country's NATO membership application is granted.
On May 30, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Oslo on the eve of a NATO foreign ministers meeting that it is "absolutely possible" to decide on Sweden's NATO membership before the alliance's summit scheduled to take place on 11-12 July 2023.