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Swedish lawmakers debate NATO membership as attitudes change
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STOCKHOLM — Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told her country’s parliament on Monday that she sees “a historic change in our country’s security policy” as the country prepares to apply for NATO membership.

“Sweden needs formal security guarantees that come with NATO membership,” Andersson said during a parliamentary debate, adding that the country was acting in concert with neighboring Finland.

The debate should be a formality because there is a clear majority of legislators in favor of NATO membership. Sweden is expected to formally apply to join the 30-member military alliance later on Monday.

The move in Sweden, which has been outside military alliances since the Napoleonic Wars, came after Finland announced on Sunday that it would also seek to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. February 24.

“Sweden is better defended in NATO,” Andersson said. “Unfortunately, we have no reason to believe that the trend (in Russian stocks) will reverse in the foreseeable future.”

On Sunday, Sweden’s Social Democrats broke with the party’s longstanding position that Sweden must remain non-aligned, paving the way for a clear majority for NATO membership in parliament.

Monday’s debate allows the Social Democratic government to demonstrate that there is broad support for NATO membership. Of the eight Swedish parties, only two small left parties oppose it.

In Helsinki, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday there was “very strong” support in Congress and he expects quick ratification, adding that the two Nordic countries “will bring a lot to the NATO alliance.

“The United States’ goal is to do this as quickly as possible,” McConnell said. He hoped a vote could take place before the August recess and added that he also hoped the United States would be “first to ratify”.

“In terms of the size of the vote, I think it will be very significant. Not unanimous, but very significant,” the longtime NATO supporter said.

On Sunday, he and Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Cornyn of Texas stopped in Stockholm and met with Andersson, among others. They made a surprise stop Saturday in the Ukrainian capital to express their solidarity in the fight against the Kremlin.

Public opinion in Sweden and Finland had strongly opposed NATO membership, but support for membership jumped almost overnight after the invasion of Ukraine began.

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