Russian President Vladimir Putin blasted the purported expansion of NATO during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Despite Zelenskyy’s repeated denials, he persisted in demanding that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promise never to join the worldwide alliance.
Putin stated that the presence of NATO in Eastern Europe posed a threat to the national security of his country. A surprising outcome of Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine was the formation of a new global alliance.
Expansion of NATO
Historically, Sweden and Finland have maintained a neutral stance. Sweden prioritized peacekeeping and actually shrank its military in the 1990s. But Sweden started to feel restless when Russia escalated its aggression, starting with the annexation of Crimea in 2014. In 2022, following Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, Sweden and Finland went against Russia’s wishes by joining NATO.
Finland officially joined the alliance on April 4, 2023. But Sweden did not have the same good fortune. The country has been unable to become a full member due to obstacles from Hungary and Türkiye.
Türkiye Backs Down
The Turkish Parliament approved Sweden’s membership in NATO on January 23. With four abstentions, the measure passed with a vote of 287 to 55. For the Swedish government, this vote marked a watershed moment on the road to full alliance membership.
The second stage of ratification for Türkiye was the vote. In December, the proposal was authorized by the country’s Foreign Affairs Commission, marking the first stage. The protocol must be signed into law by President Recep Erdogan of Turkey.
At first, Erdogan was against Sweden becoming a member due to his belief that the country was too tolerant of terrorist organizations like the PKK. In light of the president’s security worries, the Swedish government agreed to collaborate with Türkiye and strengthened its anti-terror measures.
Hungary Stands in the Way
At this point, Hungary is the sole obstacle. The Hungarian prime minister allegedly talked with NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg the day following the vote, expressing support for Sweden’s membership in the alliance.
However, the speaker of Hungary’s parliament, László Kövér, has refused to call a special session to speed up the process. POLITICO reported the speaker said he doesn’t think “there is any urgency” or “think that there is any exceptional situation.”
Reportedly, Orbán’s allegiance has shifted toward Russia. Additionally, the nation is unhappy with Sweden’s portrayal of its totalitarian regime. Denigrating the democratically elected government was what Kövér said Sweden was doing, he said.
Regardless, the Russian aggression in Ukraine is directly responsible for Sweden’s closer proximity than in the past.