NewsSweden's NATO accession completes Baltic strategic encirclement

Sweden's NATO accession completes Baltic strategic encirclement

Vladimir Putin is sailing to the bottom of the Gulf of Finland on board the ship C-Explorer Year 2019.
Vladimir Putin is sailing to the bottom of the Gulf of Finland on board the ship C-Explorer Year 2019.
Images source: © Getty Images | Mikhail Svetlov
4:44 AM EST, February 28, 2024

The strategic importance of the Baltic Sea was highlighted after Sweden secured Hungary's nod to join the military alliance.

The Last Piece of the Puzzle

"The joining of this country to the Alliance marks the completion of the strategic encirclement of the coastal areas significant as Russia's maritime gateway. This move enables NATO to not only control but also bolster the defenses of the Baltic states," the Daily Mail analyzed.

Analysts argue that this development ensures that Western allies, notably the United Kingdom and the United States, are "well-prepared to limit Russia's navigational freedom along this vital maritime corridor in the event of a potential conflict with Moscow."

"NATO still has work to do"

Despite this advantage, Moscow retains the capacity to threaten underwater infrastructure and the region from its strongholds near Saint Petersburg and the heavily fortified Kaliningrad Oblast. Experts caution that "NATO must maintain its vigilance against the Russian threat."

"When you look at the map, from a geographical standpoint, the Baltic Sea effectively becomes a NATO lake," observed Minna Alander, a research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. "However, NATO still has a considerable amount of tasks to address," she noted.

Hungary gives the green light after 20 months

On Monday, the Hungarian parliament ratified Sweden’s accession to NATO. After waiting for 20 months, Hungary, the last member of the Alliance to do so, approved Sweden's membership.

A total of 188 MPs voted in favor, including members of the ruling coalition in Hungary, Fidesz-KDNP, as well as the vast majority of opposition parties. There were 6 votes against the motion.

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