Sweden officially joins NATO as 32nd alliance member

Estimated read time 3 min read


The flags of Sweden (R) and NATO are pictured during a press conference of Sweden’s Prime Minister with the NATO Secretary General on October 24, 2023 in Stockholm, Sweden.(JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Sweden today officially became the 32nd NATO member, an event that just two years ago seemed like an impossibility.

The official ratification happened just before 11:30 AM eastern time, with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeting out “It’s official – #Sweden is now the 32nd member of #NATO, taking its rightful place at our table. Sweden’s accession makes NATO stronger, Sweden safer, and the whole Alliance more secure.

“I look forward to raising their flag at NATO HQ on Monday,” Stoltenberg added, indicating a planned celebration in Brussels for the start of next week.

“Sweden is now a NATO member,” tweeted Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. “Thank you all Allies for welcoming us as the 32nd member. We will strive for unity, solidarity and burden-sharing, and will fully adhere to the Washington Treaty values: freedom, democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. Stronger together.”

It has been quite the journey for Stockholm. Throughout the Cold War, Sweden and Finland were teamed as two militarily-neutral states between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, a status quo that continued after the fall of the USSR. For years, Swedish officials were particularly quick to dismiss the idea of ever joining the western military alliance.

That all changed quickly when Russia invaded Ukraine in late February 2022. Within days, public sentiment in both Sweden and Finland had turned in support of NATO membership and by May, both nations had submitted bids to join the alliance.

However, the process was stalled out thanks to two NATO members: Turkey and Hungary. The leaders of both those governments sought to extract concessions from the new entrants, with Turkey in particular holding Sweden up over what it viewed as harboring anti-Turkish militants. The situation dragged on enough that Stockholm and Helsinki eventually agreed to split their joint bid, leading to Finland’s NATO entry in April 2023.

The hold on Sweden continued to drag, but in January Turkey’s parliament finally voted in favor of Stockholm’s membership. A month later, Hungary followed. After that, it was just a matter of paperwork before today’s announcement.

The addition of Sweden and Finland to NATO creates a different geostrategic picture for any conflict with Russia, particularly around the Baltic Sea and in the High North. Expect that topic to be a featured one when NATO leadership gathers in Washington this summer to celebrate the alliance’s 75th anniversary.

More on how Sweden and Finland impact NATO: