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Sweden, on the verge of becoming a member of NATO, has recently entered into a defense collaboration agreement with the United States. This agreement grants the US access to all military bases throughout Sweden, with the intention of enhancing security in the region.
The agreement, inked on Tuesday in Washington, was praised by Pål Jonson, the Swedish Defense Minister, who stated that it will improve Sweden’s ability to receive assistance from the United States during times of conflict or emergency.
Jonson informed SVT, a Swedish broadcaster, that this does not necessarily imply that all of the 17 locations will be utilized, but rather that they will be strategically chosen based on military priorities for the storage of defense equipment.
The deal was signed at the Pentagon by Jonson and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin who said that by adding the capabilities of the Swedish armed forces to NATO, ”we will get even stronger.”
Austin stated that the agreement serves as a clear indication of our continued dedication to tackling security issues collaboratively.
Gotland, a crucial island in the Baltic Sea for Sweden, is located approximately 300 kilometers (186 miles) away from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea.
In 2021, the United States made a comparable agreement with Norway, a member of NATO and neighbor of Sweden. Negotiations are also underway for similar agreements with Finland and Denmark, both of which are also Nordic countries and NATO members.
Last year, Sweden and Finland, who have traditionally remained neutral, changed their stance and applied for membership in NATO after Russia’s extensive invasion of Ukraine. In April, Finland officially joined NATO.
All current members of the alliance must give their approval for new members. Only Turkey and Hungary, among NATO countries, have not officially approved Sweden’s request to join.
Turkey has postponed the process of ratification for over a year, claiming that Sweden has not sufficiently addressed Turkey’s security concerns, specifically regarding its efforts to combat Kurdish militants and other groups viewed as potential security risks by Ankara.
According to statements made on Wednesday by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the state-run Anadolu Agency, the endorsement of Sweden’s NATO membership is dependent on the U.S. Congress granting approval for Turkey’s acquisition of 40 F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits for its current fleet.
The White House has supported the request, but it has faced opposition in Congress.
On his return from Qatar after attending the 44th Gulf Cooperation Council summit, Erdogan expressed that he had fulfilled his obligation, but also expects something in return from the United States. He urged them to address the issue of F-16s in their Congress at the same time.
Last week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he told Turkey’s president that “the time has come” to let Sweden become a member of the military alliance.