NATO to increase presence in Baltic sea if Sweden applies

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference along with the European Parliament president at the European Parliament in Brussels on April 28, 2022. (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

STOCKHOLM – NATO will increase it's presence around Sweden's borders and in the Baltic sea while a potential application to join the alliance is processed, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Swedish public broadcaster SVT.

From the potential moment Sweden is applying, and NATO says that they want Sweden to join, there is a very strong obligation from NATO to be able to guarantee Sweden's security.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General

Sweden and neighbouring Finland have remained outside the alliance but the conflict in Ukraine have led the countries to rethink their security policies, with NATO membership looking increasingly likely.

Both countries are seeking military protection assurances during an application process, which could take up to a year to be approved by all NATO's members.

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"I am convinced that we will find solutions for the security needs Sweden will have in a transitional period," Stoltenberg told SVT.

"From the potential moment Sweden is applying, and NATO says that they want Sweden to join, there is a very strong obligation from NATO to be able to guarantee Sweden's security," Stoltenberg said, and added that it would include increased presence around Sweden and in the Baltic sea.

On Wednesday, Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde said the US had given Sweden "security assurances" for the application period, but "not concrete security guarantees."

READ MORE: Report: Finland, Sweden to begin NATO application in May

Sweden and Finland are expected to make a decision about whether to apply to join NATO this month.