Sweden’s top defense official said that staying out of NATO is the best security option for the country, even with an increasingly vocal Russia.
A Swedish application for NATO membership “will affect the entire security policy architecture on our part in Europe,” Defense Minister Peter Höltkvist said in an interview in Stockholm on Thursday. “Above all, it puts very strong pressure on Finland, which has a long border with Russia.”
Two Nordic countries outside the alliance have extended joint exercises with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization since Russian President Vladimir Putin removed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and supported the war on the border of two former allies.
While Swedish lawmakers last month supported the largest increase in military spending in 70 years, outlay as a percentage of GDP is still below NATO’s 2% target. Still, a majority in Parliament is now backing him to join the coalition.
The 40% increase in defense spending through 2025 is a response to the deteriorating security situation and is “not a stimulant for anyone,” Holtwick said. He said that Russia has shown that “they are ready to use military force to achieve political goals,” citing the events in Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia.
According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Sweden’s spending “may not cause concern.” When the plan was unveiled in October last year. “These invention is no small measure to measure deliberate external pressure on anti-Russia phobia Stockholm, mainly from the North Atlantic Alliance.”
Anti-immigration Sweden Democrats of Sweden joined other opposition parties last month, echoing the policy adopted by Finland, to withdraw the option to join NATO if necessary. The minority government will respond to the announcement “in due time”, according to Holtkvist.
“What we strive for is stability and predictability,” Hultqvist said. “That is why we believe that basic security policy principles should not change. And that’s why we have chosen to build national military capability on the basis of non-alignment with the cooperation of other countries. ‘
Sweden’s defense cooperation with the US during the past six years has been “very fruitful” and “delivered with stability”, the Hultukist said. Sweden signed an agreement with the US government in 2018 for Patriot air-defense missiles.
In addition, the change in the US administration is a “constant” factor, Holtkvist said, describing President-Elect Joe Biden as “a friend of Sweden”.
“I see what is happening now – that American democratic institutions are functioning and that Biden is becoming president – as a stabilizing factor. And a stable America is necessary to continue the cooperation that We have developed successfully over the years. “