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NATO marks Sweden's entry with flag raising ceremony

March 11, 2024

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has said that NATO's newest member will now share "burdens, responsibilities, and risks, with our allies."

Two soldiers ringed by flags
Sweden's flag was raised during a rainy ceremony at NATO headquarters in BrusselsImage: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Sweden's national flag was raised on Monday for the first time at  NATO headquarters marking the country's place as the alliance's 32nd member

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Crown Princess Victoria,  and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg looked on as two soldiers raised the flag among the official circle of national flags at the NATO headquarters in Brussels,  Belgium.

"Sweden has taken its rightful place at NATO's table," said Secretary-General Stoltenberg in a statement alongside Prime Minister Kristersson. 

Why Sweden joining NATO is significant

Sweden's entry into NATO ends decades of post-World War II neutrality and came after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 upended European security. Its accession was made official last Thursday. 

Sweden and neighboring Finland, which had also maintained a policy of military nonalignment, both handed in application letters to join the alliance in May 2022.  

Sweden's accession expands the NATO's footprint around the Baltic Sea. The country will now benefit from NATO's Article 5 collective security guarantee, which stipulates that an attack on one member, is an attack on all. 

What does NATO gain from Sweden and Sweden gain from NATO?

A 'stronger' NATO 

"When [Russian] President [Vladimir] 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 said

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Monday that Sweden "will share burdens, responsibilities, and risks, with our allies."

"The security situation in our region has not been this serious since the Second World War, and Russia will stay a threat to Euro-Atlantic security for a foreseeable future," he said.

Russia had warned Finland and Sweden against joining NATO with ambiguous threats.

"We should not be naive. And I think we are more aware of the risks that they pose to us now than we have ever been before," he said. "So simply still stay alert," Kristersson added. 

Swedish NATO membership closes military planning gap: Security Analyst Fabrice Pothier

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ssa/wmr (AP, AFP, dpa)