Sweden says it has received US security guarantees if it submits NATO bid

Sweden says it has received US security guarantees if it submits NATO bid

STOCKHOLM, May 4 (Reuters) – Sweden has received assurances from the United States that it will receive support while a potential NATO membership application is being processed by the 30-nation alliance , Foreign Secretary Ann Linde said Wednesday in Washington.

Sweden and neighboring Finland remained outside NATO during the Cold War, but Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its invasion of Ukraine led countries to rethink their security policies, l NATO membership seems more and more likely.

Both countries fear being vulnerable in a bid process, which could take up to a year to be approved by all NATO members.

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“Naturally I won’t go into details, but I’m very sure that we now have American insurance,” Linde told Swedish television from Washington after meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“However, no concrete security guarantees, the ones you can only get if you are a full member of NATO,” she added.

Linde declined to say what assurances she received from Blinken.

“They would mean that Russia can be clear that if it directs any sort of negative activity against Sweden, which it has threatened, it would not be something the United States would let happen…unanswered.” , she said.

A US State Department statement released after the meeting said Blinken 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 app could trigger a number of responses from Russia, including cyberattacks and hybrid measures – such as propaganda campaigns – to undermine the Swedish security.

Moscow has warned it could deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in the European enclave of Kaliningrad if Sweden and Finland become NATO members. Read more

Linde, who will now travel to Canada to discuss security issues with his government, said the United States strongly supports Sweden and Finland joining NATO, which would increase stability in the Baltic and Arctic regions.

Sweden and Finland are expected to decide this month whether they want to join NATO. Read more

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Reporting by Simon Johnson Editing by Bill Berkrot and Jacqueline Wong

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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