What would Sweden's Nato membership mean for global geopolitics?

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Web Desk
A Nato flag is seen at the Alliance headquarters ahead of a Nato Defence Ministers meeting, in Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2021. —Reuters
A Nato flag is seen at the Alliance headquarters ahead of a Nato Defence Ministers meeting, in Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2021. —Reuters

Sweden's bid for Nato membership, prompted by Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, is on the verge of approval, awaiting Hungary's ratification vote, but it holds significant consequences for Sweden's defence strategy and alters the geopolitical landscape in the region, AFP reported. 

The decision to join Nato reflects a departure from Sweden's historical policy of neutrality, adopted after the Napoleonic wars. Despite a tradition of non-alignment, Sweden strengthened ties with Nato, participating in programs like Partnership for Peace since 1994. 

However, public opposition and political hesitancy, notably within the Social Democrats, hindered full membership discussions until Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Formerly a proponent of neutrality, Sweden shifted its stance as a majority in the parliament voted to apply for Nato membership in May 2022. This marked a significant transformation in public opinion and political consensus.

Sweden, known for its humanitarian efforts, brings a unique profile to Nato. Historically emphasising a strong military for neutrality protection, Sweden shifted focus to peacekeeping after the Cold War, leading to a reduction in defence spending. However, geopolitical shifts, especially Russia's actions, prompted increased spending, aiming to surpass 2% of GDP by 2024.

Joining Nato requires Sweden to adopt a collaborative defence approach, moving away from the historical self-reliant strategy. This shift involves preparing to defend not only Swedish territory but also allied territory, marking a substantial change in military calculations.

With Sweden and Finland joining Nato, the Baltic Sea becomes encircled by alliance members, altering the regional balance. Analysts see this development as the final piece on Nato's map in Northern Europe.

The implications for Sweden's defence also include adjusting to new power relations and recognising Nato's collective strength against potential threats. The shift from being perceived as a smaller state to part of a larger alliance changes the dynamics, potentially reducing the risk of conflict.

In summary, Sweden's potential Nato membership signifies a paradigm shift in defence strategy, from solo defence efforts to collaborative security within the alliance, with broader implications for regional stability.