April 14, 2024

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Without waiting to join NATO, Sweden is already ready to welcome soldiers

Without waiting to join NATO, Sweden is already ready to welcome soldiers

Hungary is expected to approve Sweden's request for NATO membership this Monday. After the invasion of Ukraine, Stockholm revised its defense plans: Östersund, a small town in central Sweden, is now intended to become a military “hub” for the Allies.

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US Marines participated in a defense exercise in April 2023.  (PONTUS LUNDAHL / TT NEWS AGENCY/TT NYHETSBYR?N)

From north to south, from west to east, all trains lead to Ostersund. This small town in central Sweden is a rail and road hub, and important because on the other side of the snow-capped mountains is Norway's Trondheim. “The ice-free port of Trondheim is the gateway to the Nordic region for NATO. It houses the largest NATO warehouses, the US fleet and the Norwegian Air Force headquarters.”Eric Essen, military coordinator for the city, explains the recently created position.

Historically non-aligned, Sweden chose to join NATO after the invasion of Ukraine. 60% of Swedes support this choice. Hungary is expected to approve its membership application on Monday, February 26, after more than a year and a half of waiting for the Nordic country to join the Atlantic alliance since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The wait will be long: Hungarian nationalist leader Viktor Orbán's postponement was included in talks with Turkey that ended in a positive vote in January. Sweden's accession protocol to NATO, which requires the unanimity of members of the Atlantic alliance, has been put on hold since May 2022. However, since that time, Stockholm has already revised its plans for defense in line with NATO requirements.

See also  Moscow was angered by Zelensky's comments urging NATO "preventive strikes".

“Rebuilding Trustworthy Security”

The challenge is to quickly modernize the infrastructure to allow the transport of tanks and hundreds of thousands of soldiers to the Arctic, Finland and even the Baltic countries. “What will happen if Russia wins Ukraine? What will it do next? Will it attack the West?”asks Ostersund Mayor Niklas Daoson.

“Five years ago, no one would have believed that Sweden would be involved in a war. Now it is possible.”

Niklas Dawson, Mayor of Ostersund

At franceinfo

The chosen one says it without blinking: “A war could happen, so we must use the remaining time to rebuild a credible defense for the country and as a member of NATO.” Sweden does not fear a direct attack, but Moscow will one day test the alliance's resolve in its neighborhood. It is therefore poised to become a central logistical link in the defense of NATO's North-Eastern Front.