Sweden’s flag raised over NATO headquarters as membership cemented | EUROtoday

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Sweden’s flag was raised at NATO headquarters on Monday, cementing the Nordic nation’s place because the thirty second member two years after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine persuaded its reluctant public to hunt security below the alliance’s safety umbrella.

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Under a gradual rain, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Crown Princess Victoria and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg appeared on as two troopers raised the blue banner emblazoned with a yellow cross among the many official circle of nationwide flags on the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

“The Russian, brutal, full-scale invasion against Ukraine united Sweden behind the conclusion that a full-fledged NATO membership is the only reasonable choice,” Kristersson mentioned. Swedish authorities ministers and get together leaders from throughout the political spectrum attended in a present of nationwide unity.

Sweden put aside a long time of post-World War II neutrality when it formally joined NATO on March 7. The neighboring nation of Finland had already joined in April 2023 in one other historic transfer ending years of army nonalignment.

Finland’s protection ministry welcomed “our brothers and sisters in arms,” saying on X, previously Twitter, that “now we stand at the beginning of a new era. Together and with other allies in peace, in crisis and beyond.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s resolution to order troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, triggered an about-face in public opinion in each international locations and inside three months they’d utilized to hitch the world’s largest safety group.

Putin claimed to have launched the conflict, at the very least partly, over NATO’s eastward enlargement towards Russia. But the conflict had an hostile impact, pushing extra international locations to hitch the alliance. NATO leaders have promised that Ukraine itself will be a part of at some point, though nearly definitely not whereas the battle rages on.

“When President Putin launched his full-scale invasion two years ago, he wanted less NATO, and more control over his neighbors. He wanted to destroy Ukraine as a sovereign state, but he failed,” Stoltenberg mentioned.

“NATO is now bigger and stronger. Ukraine is closer to NATO than ever before, and as the brave Ukrainians continue to fight for their freedom, we stand by their side,” he mentioned.

Sweden’s membership completes a strategic ring of NATO territory across the Baltic Sea. The nation now advantages from the alliance’s collective safety assure – Article 5 of its treaty – a vow that an assault on one in all them might be met by a response from all of them.

“We have chosen you, and you have chosen us. All for one, and one for all,” Kristersson mentioned, and he vowed that his nation would uphold the values enshrined in NATO’s founding Washington Treaty.

The flag-raising ceremony got here as 20,000 troops from 13 international locations conduct NATO drills within the excessive north of recent member Sweden in addition to its neighbors Finland and Norway.

The Nordic drill is a part of wider workout routines referred to as Steadfast Defender 24, NATO’s largest in a long time, with as much as 90,000 troops participating over a number of months to indicate any adversary that the alliance can defend all of its territory from North America as much as its borders with Russia.

“We are humble, but we are also proud. We know the expectations for Sweden are high, but we also have high expectations for ourselves,” Kristersson advised reporters minutes earlier than the ceremony. “We will share burdens, responsibilities and risks with our allies.”

Sweden brings to the desk well-trained and -equipped armed forces. The nation has been working in shut partnership with NATO throughout army workout routines over time, and much more since Russia’s all-out conflict started. Sweden additionally meets NATO’s protection spending goal of two% of gross home product.