Sweden ends 200 years of neutrality

STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s last war ended in 1814, and when the rifles and cannons it aimed at Norway fell silent, the once-warring power would not take up arms again.

For the next two centuries, Sweden embraced a policy of neutrality, refusing to take sides in wars or join any military alliance. It was a stance that kept peace at home and contributed to the country becoming a prosperous welfare state and humanitarian superpower.

This remarkably long era of nonalignment is coming to a close as Sweden joins Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). The ceremonial formalities are expected soon, after 18 months of delays while Turkey and Hungary held up ratification and sought concessions from other members of the alliance.

“Sweden is now leaving 200 years of neutrality and nonalignment behind us,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said after Hungary’s Parliament gave its approval Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, overcoming the final hurdle. “It is a big step. We must take that seriously. But it is also a very natural step that we

are taking.”

Sweden, like neighbor Finland, had long ruled out seeking Nato membership. That changed practically overnight when Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The attack sparked fears across Europe of Moscow’s revived imperial ambitions — alarm that has grown as Russia gains momentum on the battlefield in Ukraine. / AP


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