The Aftonbladet newspaper, which describes itself as reflecting an “independent Social Democrat” viewpoint, dropped its support for Sweden’s long-held policy of non-alignment, with the newspaper’s chief political editor Anders Lindberg arguing in an editorial on Wednesday morning, that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine now makes membership of the security organisation necessary.
“Vladimir Putin’s war demonstrates that we need to join Nato to guarantee Sweden’s security,” Lindberg, who is often seen as the voice of Social Democrat orthodoxy, wrote in his article.
The editorial came on the day that Finland’s parliament is set to hold a historic, five-hour debate over how to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and increased Russian belligerence, which is expected to lead to it backing a Finnish application to join.
The key will be the position taken by the Social Democrats, the party led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin, and also that taken by the Centre Party, who say they will back Nato membership, if the government does.
In a sign of how closely the two neighbours’ governments are working together on the issue, Marin chose to come to Stockholm on the day her government published its analysis of the new security situation, holding a joint press conference with Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
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In his article, Lindberg argued that if Finland, which is closely aligned to Sweden militarily, decides to join Nato, Sweden’s security will be at risk if it does not follow.
“It’s most likely that Helsinki is now going to apply for membership in Nato, and as a result the last weighty argument from Sweden’s point of view is going to fall,” he wrote.
Finland, he noted, is “our most important security partner today”.
“If they decide to join Nato without us, then that deep relationship will be almost impossible to continue, and that will make is significantly weaker,” he said.
“I have never previously supported Swedish membership of Nato,” he concluded. “On the contrary, I have argued that non-alignment, a strong national defence, and a pragmatic foreign and security policy has worked extremely well. It has kept us out of war and promoted our national interests.”
But he said that Russia’s invasion had created a “security deficit in Northern Europe”.
“When I read the arguments for continued military non-alignment, I cannot see any answers to the question of how we should compensate for this deficit.”
The debate in Finland’s parliament starts at 1.15pm, Swedish time.