Sweden: Joining NATO would reduce conflict risk

STORY: Russia's invasion of Ukraine has forced Sweden and neighbor Finland to publicly pick sides after remaining outside the U.S.-led Cold War alliance since it was founded in 1949.

"Swedish NATO membership would raise the threshold for military conflicts and thus have a conflict-preventing effect in northern Europe," Linde told reporters when presenting a parliament report on security.

Sweden will be more vulnerable to attack if it is the only Nordic or Baltic country to remain outside NATO, the all-party review said, though it added that Russia could retaliate if the country applied.

"If Sweden chooses to seek NATO membership, there is a risk of a reaction from Russia," Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said.

"Let me state that, in such a case, we are prepared to deal with any counter-response."

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