Sweden's ruling party backs joining NATO, paving way for bid

2 minute read

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson looks on next to a microphone on the first day of a special German cabinet meeting hosted by Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the government's guest house Schloss Meseberg in Meseberg, Gransee, Germany May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi/File Photo

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STOCKHOLM, May 15 (Reuters) - Sweden's ruling Social Democrats said on Sunday they backed the country joining NATO, abandoning decades of opposition in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and creating a large parliament majority in favour of membership.

With neighboring Finland already set to hand in its application, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is now all but certain to launch a formal application within days.

"The party board has at its meeting on May 15, 2022 decided that the party will work toward Sweden applying for membership in NATO," the Social Democrats said in a statement.

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Joining NATO was a distant prospect just months ago, but Russia's attack on Ukraine has prompted both Sweden and Finland to rethink their security needs and seek safety in an alliance they stood apart from during the long Cold War.

The war in Ukraine, which Moscow calls a special military operation but which has already killed thousands and displaced millions, shattered long-standing security policies and fueled a wave of public support for NATO membership in both countries.

In Finland, President Sauli Niinisto on Sunday confirmed the country's intentions to apply, saying the region would benefit.

The Social Democrat party also said they were opposed to stationing nuclear weapons or permanent NATO military bases in Sweden.

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Reporting by Johan Ahlander, Simon Johnson and Niklas Pollard, Editing by William Maclean

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