Sweden says it would receive security assurances from the US if it handed over NATO’s request

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde said in Washington on Wednesday that Sweden had received assurances from the United States that it would receive support while the 30-member alliance considers a possible application to join NATO.

Neighboring Sweden and Finland remained outside NATO during the Cold War, but Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its invasion of Ukraine prompted the two countries to rethink their security policies, with a growing prospect of NATO membership.

Both countries worry that they will be at risk during the application process, which can take up to a year to be approved by all NATO members.

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“Of course, I won’t go into any details, but I’m pretty sure we now have American confirmation,” Linde told Swedish television from Washington after meeting US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

“However, they are not tangible security guarantees, those that you can only get if you are a full member of NATO,” she added.

Lindy declined to reveal the assurances she received from Blinken.

“They will mean that Russia can be clear that if it directs any kind of negative activity against Sweden, which they have threatened, it will not be something the United States will only allow to happen … without a response,” she said.

A US State Department statement issued 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 lead to a number of responses from Russia, including cyber attacks and hybrid measures – such as propaganda campaigns – to undermine Sweden’s security.

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

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

Sweden and Finland are expected to make a decision on whether to apply to join NATO this month. Read more

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(Reporting by Simon Johnson – Editing) By Bill Bercrot and Jacqueline Wong

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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