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16 Oct, 2022 14:00

US inks security deal with NATO applicant

The accord will enhance military cooperation while Sweden awaits full entry into NATO, the country’s army chief told local media
US inks security deal with NATO applicant

Sweden and the US have signed a military agreement that is meant to protect the Nordic nation’s borders prior to its joining NATO, a top defense official told local media on Sunday.

Speaking to the broadcaster SVT, Karl Engelbrektson, Sweden’s chief of the army, described the document as “a strategic agreement” that will serve as a framework for deepening defense cooperation between the two countries. “Being a good friend to the United States is not wrong when it comes to war,” he said.

The new security agreement seeks to enhance the possibilities for joint military operations, especially while Sweden awaits official accession to NATO, according to the outlet. As things currently stand, the principle of collective defense, which is often described as the cornerstone of the US-led military bloc, does not apply to the nation.

Meanwhile, General James McConville, chief of staff of the US Army, touted the “strong partnership” with Sweden. He noted that Washington is very concerned about possible military action in the Arctic region, adding that Swedish forces are “experts” in such an environment. “They can surely share some expertise with us, and we can show some expertise that we have,” he told SVT.

Echoing his American colleague’s remarks, Engelbrektson also claimed that what Sweden may bring to the table for NATO is a proficiency in winter combat, adding that Stockholm has “well-trained soldiers” even though they are currently few in number.

In the wake of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine in late February, Sweden and its Nordic neighbor Finland broke with their decades-long neutrality stance and decided to formally apply for NATO membership, citing the “fundamentally changed security environment.”

While most NATO members embraced the Nordic nations’ membership ambitions, the bids initially met with strong opposition from Türkiye. At the time, Ankara accused Sweden and Finland of being “guesthouses for terrorist organizations” and hosting members of outlawed Kurdish groups it deems to be “terrorists.” Later, the two sides managed to hash out an agreement that addressed Türkiye’s concerns.

However, Ankara has still not ratified the nations’ NATO applications. Commenting on the matter, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he was ready to rubberstamp Finland’s entry to NATO – but not Sweden’s, a country, in his view, “where terror is rampant.”