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Stoltenberg: Sweden's accession to NATO shows 'failure' of Putin's war goals

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 11, 2024 2:41 PM 2 min read
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C), Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (2ndL) pose during a flag-raising ceremony for Sweden's accession to NATO at the headquarters in Brussels, on March 11, 2024. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images)
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Sweden's long-awaited accession to NATO demonstrates the "failure" of Russian President Vladimir Putin's war goals, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on March 11.

Stoltenberg's comments came during Sweden's flag-raising ceremony at NATO headquarters which marked the final step of its accession into the alliance.

Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership in 2022, abandoning their non-alignment policy in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine. Objections from Turkey and Hungary held up the accession of both countries.

Finland joined the alliance in April 2023, and Sweden officially became the 32nd member on March 7, 2024.

"When President Putin launched his full-scale invasion two years ago, he wanted less NATO and more control over his neighbors. He wanted to destroy Ukraine as a sovereign state, but he failed," Stoltenberg said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova threatened in February 2024 that there would be a Russian response to Sweden's NATO accession but did not clarify what it would entail.

Putin made similar vague threats to Finland after it joined the alliance, saying in December 2023 that Finland is "now going to have problems" because it joined NATO.

Ukraine applied for a fast-track NATO accession in September 2022 after Russia claimed the illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions. Ukraine's prospects of joining the alliance while the full-scale war is ongoing remain low.

At the same time, Stoltenberg said on March 11 that "Ukraine is closer to NATO membership than ever before."

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