A Russian Imperial double-headed eagle is seen in front of a Sweden flag on the Czarina's Stone in the Market Square, in Helsinki, Finland, Friday, May 13, 2022
Sweden joining NATO would deter the threat of military conflict in northern Europe, a new report has concluded.
The review, published on Friday, highlighted several advantages of the transatlantic military alliance.
Sweden and neighbour Finland are considering joining after Russia’s war in Ukraine sparked a surge in support for NATO membership.
On Thursday, Finland’s president and prime minister issued a joint statement urging the country to sign up “without delay”.
But Friday’s report in Sweden stopped short of making such a recommendation.
“Sweden’s membership in NATO would raise the threshold [of triggering] of military conflicts and would thus have a deterrent effect in Northern Europe,” the report said.
Although Moscow has warned of “consequences” if Sweden and Finland were to enter NATO, the report dismissed an armed assault as very unlikely, although it did recognise the possibility of Russian “provocations” and “retaliation”.
“Our opinion is that we would not suffer a conventional military attack in reaction to a possible candidacy for NATO,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said at a press conference on Friday.
But she stopped short of ruling out a Russian military attack on the country, reiterating her government’s position.
A formal decision on whether Sweden and Finland will join NATO is expected in the coming days.
Sweden has traditionally preferred a policy of neutrality and stayed out of the western alliance, not wishing to provoke tensions in the area.
Russia is strongly against a larger and expanded NATO on its borders, which it views as a threat to the country’s security.
Moscow has previously warned that nuclear weapons will be deployed near Scandinavia and the Baltics, should Finland or Sweden decide to sign up.
Set up after World War II, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) is a military and political alliance of western countries.
If one of NATO’s 30 member states is attacked by a foreign power, all the others are obliged to come to its aid under the terms of the treaty.