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Sweden's NATO Future

Hungary’s parliament is set to vote on Sweden’s NATO bid today, a move that would pave the way for Sweden to become the 32nd country to join the transatlantic military alliance.

The country is the only NATO member yet to approve Sweden’s bid, submitted shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Hungary’s leadership had expressed a range of reservations with Sweden’s bid, including comments critical of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Hungary also maintains close diplomatic and economic ties with the Kremlin, now Russia's largest oil and gas customer in Europe. Last week, Orbán signaled approval for Sweden’s bid following a visit from Swedish leader Ulf Kristersson and the announcement of Hungary’s purchase of four Swedish fighter jets.

Sweden and Russia do not share a land border, but they do share a maritime border, with one Swedish island located over 180 miles from the base of Russia’s Baltic fleet. NATO members operate under a collective defense doctrine (see 101), requiring a mutual response in the event of an attack. 

Sweden’s bid—like Finland’s, approved to join NATO last year—marked the end of the two countries’ decadeslong policy of nonalignment.

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