Sweden's NATO Accession Clears Final Hurdle After Hungary Inks Jet Deal

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Feb 26, 2024 - 07:25 PM

Sweden is now set to formally enter the NATO military alliance, after Hungary's parliament voted to approve its bid on Monday afternoon, following many months of delays and Prime Minister Viktor Orban's earlier stance of blocking Sweden's accession. European leaders are now hailing the "historic day"

The belated ratification by Hungary marks overcoming the final hurdle for Sweden's NATO accession - thus now it's a done deal only with Brussels set to formalize it, as this marks reaching the required goal of all 31 NATO members needing to approve.

Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, left, shakes hands with his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban last Friday, via AP.

Prime Minister Orban and his ruling Fidesz party constituted the last holdout after Turkey also proceeded to ratify. Orban had just signed a deal for Hungary to obtain four Swedish-made fighter jets.

"We have managed to clarify our mutual good intentions," he said of the jet deal signed Friday, with both sides referencing it as their signifying their mutual reconciliation. 

"To be a member of NATO together with another country means we are ready to die for each other," Orban said. "A deal on defense and military capacities helps to reconstruct the trust between the two countries."

On Monday the Hungarian leader did reiterate his position that there is "no military solution" to the Ukraine-Russia war and that a negotiated settlement should be pursued. But he also underscored that Russia "attacked" Ukraine.

Among the 194 members of parliament who voted, a mere six voted down Sweden’s accession into NATO. Budapest has long resisted Europe's policy on Ukraine, especially the push to send more defense aid, but recently dramatically backed off its objections. Some pundits have accused Orban of effectively caving, compared to his prior firm stance based principally on wishing to avoid escalating with Moscow.

It was only last year that Finland became the 31st NATO member in a hugely controversial development given the country shares a long border with Russia. Moscow warned that the addition of the Scandinavian countries to the alliance could result in Russia choosing to militarize the 1300+ km-long border with Finland. Sweden also shares a small far northern Arctic border with Russia.

Both Sweden and Finland abandoned decades of an official policy of non-alignment in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which came almost exactly two years ago. Entering the third year of the war, things only seem to be continually escalating. NATO military exercises have already begun incorporating both countries' militaries - though both have signaled they won't allow nukes to be placed on their territories.