Sweden on Monday formally approved the country’s bid to join the NATO alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reports.
Sweden agreed to drop its military neutrality policy, which has been in place since the Cold War, after the governing Social Democrats agreed to drop their opposition to joining NATO.
"We are leaving one era behind us and entering a new one," Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Monday. "NATO will strengthen Sweden, Sweden will strengthen NATO.”
She added that despite the bid, Sweden does not want to host permanent NATO military bases or nuclear weapons.
The county joins Finland in reversing its longheld position and seeking to join NATO in response to Russia’s aggression.
Scandinavian neighbors Denmark, Norway and Iceland pledged their support.
"Finland and Sweden's security is a matter of common concern to us all. Should Finland or Sweden be victim of aggression on their territory before obtaining NATO membership, we will assist Finland and Sweden by all means necessary," the three countries’ leaders said in a statement.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov called the NATO bid a “grave mistake.”
“This will be another gross mistake with far-reaching consequences,” he told reporters. “The fact that the security of Sweden, like that of Finland for that matter, will not be strengthened as a result of this decision, is completely obvious to us.”
“It is a pity that common sense is being sacrificed to some phantom ideas about what should be done in the current situation,” he added.
Turkey appears likely to stand in the way of Sweden and Finland’s bids.
Turkey said it would not view the applications positively, citing the countries’ history of hosting members of Kurdish militant groups.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called the countries “guesthouses for terrorist organizations.”
Turkey also called on the countries to lift bans on sales of weapons to its military.
Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist vowed to start diplomatic discussions with Turkey.
"We will send a group of diplomats to hold discussions and have a dialogue with Turkey so we can see how this can be resolved and what this is really about," he said.