RIGA - Sweden has given up its neutrality policy of more than 200 years and together with Finland will join NATO because the security of the Baltic Sea region should be strengthened, said Fredrik Lojdquist, the director of the Stockholm Centre for Eastern European Studies (SCEEUS), in an interview with LETA.
He said that the security situation in the Baltic Sea region is deteriorating, especially since 2014 when Russia started its war against Ukraine and there were different incidents in the Baltic Sea and its vicinity. However, in Sweden it started even earlier when in 2013 a Russian war jet flew very near the Swedish territory in an aggressive way.
"The Swedish media drew attention to this incident. Then the 2014 events came and everything that followed, including tension, incidents with war ships and airplanes in the Baltic Sea," said the expert. "Even though what happened on February 24 this year is a continuation of the whole process, these were also dramatic changes due to the large-scale military violence - a scale we have not seen in Europe since World War II. In addition - it is the way the war is being conducted, with all the crimes, violations of human rights," he said.
All this made Sweden and Finland to launch discussions that ended with the applications of both countries to join NATO.
"The Swedish government and the whole political system, drew conclusions that our and Finland's accession to NATO will increase security of Sweden and the whole region, therefore, this step will improve not only our own situation, but the situation in the whole northern Europe. Of course, it changes the military situation in northern Europe and in relations with Russia because now all Baltic Sea countries, except Russia, will be NATO member states," the Swedish expert said during the Riga Conference.
He said that only two parties at the Swedish parliament objected to such a decision, but also they joined the stance against Russia's aggression.
"This only proves that Sweden is united in its stance, being aware of the threat from Russia - not only politically, but also in the society. There are not many countries, apart from the Baltic states, Poland and Finland, where there is a complete unity about these threats," he said.
The Swedes are following the war in Ukraine and it is constantly in focus of the media. "We see solidarity symbols in Sweden in every step - Ukrainian flags, support demonstrations in Stockholm every Monday, etc.," the expert said.
Politicians in Sweden often repeat that it is not just defense of Ukraine, but defense or freedom and democratic values. "I think that the Swedes are well aware what is at stake if Russia wins the war in Ukraine. The consequences of Ukraine's loss will affect every one of us," said Lojdquist.