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Sweden as NATO member could become logistical hub in case of conflicts - FT

Sweden as NATO member could become logistical hub in case of conflicts - FT Illustrative photo (Getty Images)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

In the coming days, Sweden will finally join NATO, meaning that the Western defense alliance will almost ring the entire Baltic Sea, which is an important oil trade route for Russia and home to one of its fleets, according to Financial Times.

Officially becoming the 32nd member of the US-led alliance at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., Sweden will take with it the mid-Baltic island of Gotland, nicknamed a "giant aircraft carrier" that facilitates the defense of the three small Baltic states.

By joining NATO, Sweden opens up new opportunities for maritime transportation, as Gotland is located less than 200 kilometers from the Latvian coast.

The accession of Sweden and Finland also allows NATO to look at Northern Europe as one big region, without a gaping hole in the map.

The Baltic states may benefit most from Sweden's accession: Stockholm intends to send a battalion to participate in a multinational presence in Latvia. But the most profound changes over time are likely to occur in the Nordic region itself.

Cooperation between the four main countries - Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland - has long been close, but it is now set to become even more intense.

Last year, the air forces of the four Scandinavian countries announced their intention to operate their fleet of about 230 fighter jets as a single unit, making it larger than the UK's RAF or the German Air Force. Already, Norwegian F-35s and Swedish Gripen fighters are practicing landings on Finnish roads.

Sweden, which does not share a direct border with Russia, is likely to play a different role for NATO military planners than the border states. According to officials, Stockholm would become a logistics center in the event of a conflict, as well as a route for reinforcements to Finland or the Baltic states.

But Sweden also has special capabilities. It has extensive experience with submarines and submarine forces, which is increasingly important in the Baltic Sea, which has seen several unexplained cases of sabotage in recent years, from the bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines to the Chinese anchor cutting off gas and data communications between Finland and Estonia.

Sweden's accession to NATO

In 2022, after the Russian Federation's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Sweden applied to join NATO. This decision was opposed by Türkiye and Hungary. Later, after a series of agreements, Ankara finally gave its consent.

For a long time, Hungary remained the last country not to ratify the application, which was the last obstacle for Stockholm.

On February 26, the Hungarian parliament finally ratified Sweden's application to join the Alliance, and on March 5, newly elected President Tamás Szüek signed the document.