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Sweden joining NATO bolsters Baltic Sea security — Billstrom

Sweden’s foreign minister told DW that Sweden and Finland joining NATO would “significantly” improve Baltic Sea security and stability. Meanwhile, he predicted that the conflict with Russia would be “prolonged.”

The accession of Sweden and Finland to the Western NATO military alliance bolsters the Baltic Sea area, amid the prospect of a “prolonged” conflict with Russia, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said.

Speaking to DW’s Richard Walker during a visit to Berlin on Thursday, Billstrom said the two Nordic countries’ accession means that all countries around the Baltic Sea, apart from Russia, are NATO members.

He predicted that this would add “significantly to the stability and the security in this part of the world.”

Sweden became NATO’s newest member earlier this month, after a tedious bid which dragged on for nearly two years. The country, alongside Nordic neighbor Finland, abandoned its neutral military stance following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Billstrom stresses ongoing support for Ukraine

The Swedish foreign minister said ongoing support for Ukraine was vital in its fight against Russia, well into its third year now.

He said military, financial and political assistance were all required.

“The EU has to move out of giving packages,” he said. “We have to find a formula for achieving long-term support [for] Ukraine, both financially and militarily.”

He also defended his country’s level of ongoing support for Kyiv.

“We are doing a lot. We are prepared to do more. Now we are also joining the Czech initiative for procuring ammunition.”

Ukraine has asked Sweden to provide it with Gripen fighter jets. The request, made by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his first visit to Sweden last August, is still pending.

Addressing the request, Billstrom said that the Swedish armed forces presented a report that government offices were now analyzing.

“When that analysis is ready, we are ready to give an answer, but that is not the moment in time right now,” he said.

Billstrom foresees ‘prolonged’ conflict with Russia

The Swedish top diplomat also warned that the European Union should “brace itself for a prolonged conflict with Russia.”

“We have to see this war for what it is,” Billstrom said. “It is a war between a country which doesn’t feel any limits, which wants to regain its former imperial past, and that has to be stopped.”

Consequently, Billstrom said, the EU must make sure Ukraine wins back all territory seized by Moscow and “puts a stop to Russia once and for all.”

The Swedish foreign minister expressed optimism regarding Kyiv’s chances of winning the war, despite recent setbacks.

“And as a matter of fact, I don’t feel any fatigue at all, and neither [does] my country,” he said, on the chances of Ukraine winning.

When asked about the prospect of sending NATO troops to Ukraine, a controversial recent suggestion by French President Emmanuel Macron, Billstrom rerouted the conversation to Ukraine’s “needs.”

He stressed the importance of organizing training missions for Ukrainian troops outside of Ukraine, such as ones Stockholm has taken part in.

“So we should do more, of course, but that doesn’t mean that we necessarily have to do it on Ukrainian soil. We can achieve a lot outside of Ukraine as well,” Billstrom said.

Source: Dw

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