Sweden has for 200 years maintained a military posture of neutrality when it comes to world affairs and conflicts.
Now, government officials are seriously looking at aligning with NATO out of fears of Russian aggression.
“I think it’s the combination of the perceived threat from Russia and a discussion about the armed forces’ inability to carry out their tasks which leads to more Swedes being in favor of Swedish NATO membership,” Ulf Bjereld, a political science professor at Gothenburg University, told Swedish Radio.
Russian naval and air forces have been making more forays into Swedish territory. In October, Russian forces moved into the Stockholm archipelago to look for a “missing Russian submarine.” No missing vessel was ever found.
The Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea has had a major impact on the citizens of Sweden. The public was almost unanimous in not wanting to join NATO before the invasion and now 33% of the nation wants to join NATO.
Russia has threatened military action if Sweden joins NATO.
“I don’t think it will become relevant in the near future, even though there has been a certain swing in public opinion. But if it happens there will be counter measures,” Russia’s ambassador to Sweden, Viktor Tatarintsev, told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper in June. “Putin pointed out that there will be consequences, that Russia will have to resort to a response of the military kind and reorientate our troops and missiles. The country that joins NATO needs to be aware of the risks it is exposing itself to.”