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News   Partnerships

Sweden, Finland Apply for NATO Membership

May 18, 2022 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Finland and Sweden officially applied to join the 30 members of the NATO alliance earlier today.

Later, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosted an enhanced honor cordon at the Pentagon for Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist.

After one man emerges from a car, another man welcomes him with a handshake.
Defense Meeting
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosts an enhanced honor cordon at the Pentagon for Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist, May 18, 2022.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James Lee, DOD
VIRIN: 220518-D-WA993-1002

The leaders discussed the strength of the bilateral defense relationship and the historic decision by the Swedish government to seek NATO membership. They also underscored the importance of security and stability in Europe and transatlantic unity.

Things have changed since Sweden's previous neutrality posture, said Hultqvist.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin is waging an unprovoked attack on a peaceful and democratic Ukraine. War is raging in Europe on a scale not seen since the Second World War," he said.

Two service members ride snowmobiles.
Cold Response
U.S. service members participate in Exercise Cold Response 2022 in Sweden, Feb. 22, 2022.
Photo By: Army Capt. Margaret Collins
VIRIN: 220222-A-GO187-027

"The Russian propaganda can no longer hide the true nature of Russia's corrupt and autocratic regime. It cannot hide Russia's war crimes.

"This is a time when the democracies of Europe and North America must stand together against Russia's naked aggression," Hultqvist said.

Membership will benefit the training and interoperability of Sweden's armed forces, he said.

"We must stand together in protecting the security of Europe and North America. This will be a close relationship," he said.

Two men stand side by side at the top of a stairway outside of a building; service members form an honor guard on either side of the stairs.
Pentagon Meeting
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosts an enhanced honor cordon at the Pentagon for Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist, May 18, 2022.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James Lee, DOD
VIRIN: 220518-D-WA993-1004

The United States strongly supports Sweden's application for membership, Austin said, noting that the militaries of both nations routinely train together.

"I'm proud that our defense relationship with Sweden remains strong. We look forward to your contributions to the NATO alliance," Austin said.

"Your capabilities are modern, relevant and significant, and your addition to the alliance will make us all better at defending ourselves," he said.

Austin also thanked Sweden for supporting Ukraine with security and humanitarian assistance.