US bombers land in Sweden for first time 'in modern history'
The strategic bombers will take part in a multi-level joint exercise with Sweden's Armed Forces.
US bombers landed in Sweden for the first time in decades for joint military exercises as the Nordic country continues to place high bets on being admitted into the NATO coalition.
While Stockholm hopes to have its membership approved in the next NATO meeting scheduled in Vilnius, Lithuania, the invitee announced earlier this month it is ready to host the military bloc's troops and military hardware on its territory even before it formally becomes a member.
Two American B-1B Lancers arrived at Lulea-Kallax airport in Sweden on Monday, the Swedish military said.
"We are carrying out a joint exercise, both the air force and the army, with the Bomber Task Force," Swedish Air Force Spokesperson Louise Levin told AFP without giving further information.
The military said that "for the first time in modern times US bomber planes have landed in Sweden."
"In these uncertain times and while waiting for NATO membership it is important to have strong partners," the statement continued.
Last February, Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson said Stockholm aims to further integrate its military relations with NATO as the country's accession into the coalition is facing obstacles after talks with Turkey have been put to a halt.
Sweden and its neighbor Finland applied to join NATO last year, citing changes in the European security scene as a result of the Ukraine crisis.
While Finland went on to become a member, Turkey and Hungary have stymied Sweden's bid, with Budapest citing grievances over Stockholm's criticism of Hungarian Prime Minister Orban's record on the rule of law, and Ankara accusing Sweden of harboring what it sees as Kurdish terrorists and, most recently, meddling in Turkish elections.
Announcing his country's readiness to receive NATO personnel earlier, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said the decision sends a clear signal to Russia and strengthens Sweden's defense.
In May, Sweden launched Aurora-23, the largest military drill the country has witnessed in 25 years, involving 14 countries and around 26,000 servicemembers.
Members from the US, UK, Germany, France, Ukraine, Finland, Poland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, and Austria took part in the training that ended on May 11.