Chatham House
Printable version

Sweden brings benefits for NATO but accession delay raises difficult questions


Sweden’s membership will strengthen NATO, but the delays associated with its accession has revealed several concerns about the credibility and future of the alliance.

Sweden’s membership of NATO cements a relationship that has gradually grown stronger since the end of the Cold War. While Sweden’s NATO membership has taken a little longer to be approved than that of its neighbour Finland, its suitability for membership has never been an issue for most members of the alliance. 

As Hungary finally approves Sweden’s NATO membership, the Scandinavian country brings five key benefits for the alliance.

First, the political symbolism of two staunchly neutral states – Sweden and Finland – joining NATO should send an important message to countries who are still undecided about Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Both have a long experience of managing their relationship with Russia while remaining fiercely independent. Abandoning neutrality and joining NATO because of Russia’s actions is a major change in their respective foreign policies and Swedish accession means the Kremlin and its allies cannot claim that the Finnish decision was an isolated incident.

Second, as the NATO military command seeks to develop defence plans for NATO’s eastern members aimed at deterring and, if necessary, defending these countries from Russian action, Sweden brings with it a considerable amount of experience and understanding of how to counter the Russian desire to have complete control over its neighbours. 

Third, unlike many countries who have joined NATO since the end of the Cold War, Sweden has maintained highly capable military forces with a good deal of cutting-edge technology, including fourth generation Gripen fighter aircraft equipped with Meteor air-to-air missiles, Leopard 2 main battle tanks and Gotland-class attack submarines powered by an air-independent propulsion system.

Click here to continue reading the full version of this Expert Comment on the Chatham House website.


Channel website:

Original article link:

Share this article


Latest News from
Chatham House

Facing the Future...find out more