Sweden, being pressurized by Russia’s strength and aggressive maneuvers post conflict in Ukraine, has decided to increase its co-operation with NATO. Sweden’s Parliament entered into a cooperation agreement with NATO on Wednesday. With this permission, NATO has got liberty for war practice and deployment of forces in Sweden. Russia had already warned against the growing bonding between Sweden and NATO.
Swedish Parliament has voted 291 to 21 for the deal named ‘Host Nation Support Agreement’. After approving the agreement, Peter Hultqvist, Defence Minister of Sweden justified saying that the agreement was not Sweden taking NATO’s membership. He further said that this won’t even bring change in Sweden and NATO relationship and Sweden’s security policies. He further underlined that Sweden will continue to be neutral nation.
As per the agreement with Sweden, NATO will get a chance to organize military exercises in Sweden. Also, Sweden’s land can be used for forces’ deployment by NATO during times of conflicts. The acceptance from the analysts in Sweden for this agreement is claimed as an important step in the ‘Sweden-NATO’ cooperation.
The conflicts in Ukraine in the year 2014 gave rise to increase in friction between Russia and Europe. By claiming that the interference of the western countries in Ukraine is an attempt to put Russia in a soup, Russia has started to increase its defence preparedness and deployment. It has been noticed that Russia’s fighter planes, warships and submarines have been showing aggressive maneuvering at borders of Europe. Looking at the increasing aggression of Russia, the European countries have expressed concern and have demanded assistance from NATO to counter Russia.
President Barack Obama has appealed to the European Nations to increase the defence expenditure. Two weeks back, the Unites States had convened a special meeting with the Nordic Countries which saw presence of Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Sweden. During this meet, US assured of its commitment of securing the Nordic nations and also promised of taking responsibility of the security of these countries with the support of NATO.
The meeting held in the US has played an important role in acceptance of agreement between Sweden and NATO. A few months back, Sweden had taken a decision of increasing its defense expenses by $1.1 billion. By entering into a bilateral agreement with Denmark it accepted to increase its defence cooperation. Denmark being a NATO member, this agreement is considered as a symbol of closeness between Sweden and NATO.
Russia has expressed disappointment in clear words on the steps taken by Sweden for increasing cooperation with NATO. Last month itself, Russia Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov had strongly warned Sweden that if Sweden increased its bonding with NATO then Russia shall give a prompt reply could be militaristic in nature.