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Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (L) meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest, Hungary, on Feb. 23, 2024. (Balint Szentgallay/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Editor's note: This is a developing story.

Hungary's parliament voted to ratify Sweden's application to join NATO on Feb. 26, finalizing the country's membership after almost two years of delays.

Sweden and Finland applied to join the alliance in 2022 after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but their accession was held up by objections from Turkey and Hungary.

Finland joined NATO in April 2023. After Turkey formally ratified Sweden's NATO membership on Jan. 25, Hungary remained the last member yet to approve Sweden's application.

The ratification of Sweden's membership bid comes three days after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met his Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson in Budapest.

At the Feb. 23 meeting, the leaders vowed to overcome their differences and increase cooperation. They also signed a deal in which Sweden agreed to sell four Swedish JAS Gripen fighter jets to Hungary.

Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson previously told the Kyiv Independent that his country was open to providing Ukraine with modern fighter jets after finalizing its NATO bid.

Hungary's ruling Fidesz party pledged its support for the ratification on Feb. 20.

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Hungary previously delayed ratifying Sweden's NATO accession in part due to the country's criticism of the deteriorating rule of law under Orban's tenure.

Sweden will become the 32nd member of NATO. Accepting a new country into the alliance requires unanimous support from all members.

Finland became the 31st member of NATO in April last year, citing the international alliance as being "the only effective security guarantee in the region" amid Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

NATO militaries have strengthened their capacity and preparedness since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. While the prospect of the war escalating to an all-out clash between the alliance and Russia has so far been averted, there are concerns that the West has not truly accepted that it may still be a possibility.

Several NATO commanders and other alliance leaders have warned in increasingly stark terms in recent months about the dangers of such a war and what impact it could have across Europe.

Ukraine applied for a fast-track NATO accession on Sept. 30, 2022, after Russia claimed the annexation of four Ukrainian regions. However, until Moscow's war against Ukraine ends, the country's prospects of NATO membership seem to remain low.

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