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US Senators to advocate for Sweden's NATO bid during visit to Hungary

by Dmytro Basmat February 16, 2024 6:40 PM 2 min read
The Swedish Parliament votes to elect the new Swedish Prime Minister in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 17, 2022. (Photo credit: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images)
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A bipartisan delegation of U.S. Senators will visit Hungary this week to advocate for Sweden's accession to NATO, as Hungary remains the only NATO country to not yet ratify Sweden's entry into the alliance.

The U.S. Embassy to Hungary said in a statement on Feb. 16 that the senators will lead the delegation "on a mission focused on strategic issues confronting NATO and Hungary."

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Jan. 24 that Budapest supports Stockholm's entry. Hungary's ruling Fidesz party said Sweden's bid could be ratified when parliament reconvenes later this month.

Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Orban, a notoriously Russian-friendly leader, has repeatedly taken stances against support for Ukraine. Hungary has also obstructed EU sanctions against Russia, including blocking the EU's latest package of sanctions against Russia on Feb. 15.

For months, Orban blocked the EU's $54 billion aid funding for Ukraine, finally agreeing to the aid package on Feb. 1 after months-long negotiations.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed into force the parliament's ratification of Sweden's NATO membership on Jan. 25, overcoming a major hurdle for Sweden's accession as the 32nd member of NATO.

News of the U.S. delegation coincides with statements from Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson, who revealed to the Kyiv Independent on Feb. 16 that Sweden is willing to supply Ukraine with modern fighter jets. However, the Nordic nation first needs a full-fledged NATO membership, Jonson said.

Finland also applied to join NATO in May 2022, shortly after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine and was admitted as a member in April 2023.

Swedish minister reaffirms willingness to send jets to Ukraine after finalizing NATO bid
Sweden is open to providing Ukraine with modern fighter jets, but first needs a full-fledged NATO membership and the security provided by Article 5, Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson said on Feb. 16 at the Munich Security Conference, according to a Kyiv Independent reporter.
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