Sweden claims to have secured US security if NATO submits application

STOCKHOLM, May 4 (Reuters) – Sweden has been assured of support from the United States over a period of time when a potential application to join NATO is implemented by 30 countries in the alliance, Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in Washington on Wednesday.

Sweden and neighboring Finland withdrew from NATO during the Cold War, but in 2014 Russia annexed Crimea and led its occupying powers over Ukraine to reconsider their defense policies, making NATO membership more likely.

It can take up to a year to be approved by all NATO members.

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“Naturally, I’m not going to go into any details, but now I’m sure we have a US guarantee,” Linde told Swedish TV from Washington after meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blingen.

“However, there are no definitive security guarantees, which you can only get if you are a full member of NATO,” he added.

Linde declined to say what assurances she received from Blingen.

“If they direct any kind of negative action against Sweden, it is not something that the United States will allow to happen … Russia can clearly say that it can happen without an answer,” he said.

A US State Department statement released after the meeting said Blinken had reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to NATO’s policy of welcoming new members, but made no mention of security guarantees.

Sweden’s defense minister said last month that an application could trigger multiple responses from Russia, such as cyber-attacks and mixed operations – propaganda campaigns that could undermine Sweden’s security.

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Moscow has warned that if Sweden and Finland become NATO member states, nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles could be deployed in the European Kaliningrad region. read more

Linde, who is currently in Canada to discuss security issues with her government, said the United States strongly supports Swedish and Finnish members in NATO, which will increase stability in the Baltic and Arctic regions.

Both Sweden and Finland are expected to decide this month whether to apply to join NATO. read more

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The Simon Johnson report was edited by Bill Berkrod and Jacqueline Wong

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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