scroll to top arrow or icon

{{ subpage.title }}

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with winners of the Leaders of Russia national management competition at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia March 12, 2024.

Sputnik/Sergei Savostyanov/Pool via REUTERS

​Despite Putin’s current swagger, Russia remains vulnerable

After last year’s failed Ukrainian counteroffensive, Russia’s Vladimir Putin has signaled confidence that, thanks to lagging support from the West and Ukraine’s shortage of troops and weapons, Russia can win a war of attrition. But a series of stories today remind us the Kremlin still has plenty of security concerns.

Read moreShow less
Why Sweden and Finland joined NATO
TITLE PLACEHOLDER | Carl Bildt | Europe In :60

Why Sweden and Finland joined NATO

Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics from Hanoi, Vietnam.

Was the Swedish and Finnish decision to move into NATO, was that driven by fear of Russia attacking them?

Not really. I don't think either of our countries feel any immediate threat by Russian aggression. But what happened when Russia, Mr. Putin, to be precisely, attacked Ukraine was a fundamental upsetting of the entire European security order. And although Mr. Putin's priority at the moment, he’s very clear on that, is to get rid of Ukraine by invading and occupying all of it, you never know where he's going to stop. And this led Finland and Sweden to do the fundamental reassessment of their security policies. Giving up, in Swedish case, we've been outside of military alliances for the last 200 years or something like that.

Read moreShow less

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accepts Sweden's instruments of accession from Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson for its entry into NATO at the State Department in Washington, U.S., March 7, 2024.

REUTERS/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

Sweden finally joins the NATO party

It’s official! Sweden has formally become NATO’s 32nd member. With the addition of Sweden and Finland, Vladimir Putin now finds himself surrounded by an enlarged and powerful NATO two years after he invaded Ukraine.

Read moreShow less
Sending NATO troops to Ukraine unlikely despite Macron's remarks
TITLE PLACEHOLDER | Ian Bremmer | World In :60

Sending NATO troops to Ukraine unlikely despite Macron's remarks

Are Western troops likely to end up on the ground in Ukraine?

If Western troops we mean NATO troops, I think it is very, very unlikely indeed. All this is a big flap in response to a question the French President, Emmanuel Macron, said it wasn't off the table, something needed to be thought about. The German chancellor almost immediately clapped Macron back. Didn't really need to do that. You already had the NATO secretary general, others saying more needs to be done to support the Ukrainians, more economic support, more military support, need to get the Americans to tee up for 2024. Most of NATO is all there. But of course, Macron, when he gets frustrated, he gets flustered. He likes to make a name. He likes to make headlines. Got a little trouble for that. It was a bit of an own goal. We've seen that before. But I don't think there's actually that much news being made.

Read moreShow less

Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson speaks during a press conference at the government headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, February 26, 2024.

TT News Agency/Magnus Lejhall

Sweden joins NATO: what has the alliance gained?

On Monday, after stalling for 19 months, Hungary voted in favor of Sweden joining NATO. The vote completes the alliance’s Nordic expansion in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Why does Sweden want in? Sweden was caught with its pants down when Russia ended the European peace party.

After remaining heavily armed but neutral through the Cold War, its military has waned in recent years. Its army has shrunk by 90% in terms of manpower, and defense spending has dropped to barely 1% of GDP. Russia's invasion was a wake-up call that it needed NATO's protection.

In contrast, Finland maintained a strong military, in no small part because it shares a 1,300-kilometer-long border with Russia.

So what does NATO want with Sweden? An underfunded military full of peaceniks?

Not exactly. Despite military budget cuts, decades of armed neutrality left Sweden with a robust and advanced arms industry, most of which is fully compatible with NATO standards. It is one of the world’s largest arms exporters and builds advanced jets, tanks, warships, and more – all of which European allies need after draining reserves to support Ukraine.

NATO now dominates the Baltic Sea. All of the surrounding countries besides Russia are now NATO members, insulating Baltic allies like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which worry they could be the next targets of Russian aggression.

US approves F-16s for Turkey, moving Sweden NATO membership closer
Turkey's ratification makes Sweden one step closer to NATO | Europe In :60

US approves F-16s for Turkey, moving Sweden NATO membership closer

Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics from Stockholm.

How are things proceeding with the ratification of the Swedish membership in NATO?

Well, it’s been some back and forth. But now Turkey has ratified and that is important. That has to do with also the agreement with the US on deliveries of F-16s and modification kits of F-16s and deliveries of F-35s to Greece. A major package has been negotiated, so that should be okay. Now, remaining with Hungary. Prime Minister Orban is a slightly unpredictable fellow, but I would guess that he can't hold off for very long. So I would hope, expect this process to be wrapped up within a couple of weeks.

Read moreShow less

FILE PHOTO: A Turkish F-16 pilot taxis past another Turkish Air Force F-16 at the 3rd Main Jet Air Base in central Turkey's city of Konya.

REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Turkey gets F-16s, Greece gets F-35s, and Sweden gets one step closer to NATO

Alliances involve a delicate dance. Turkey’s parliament formally approved Sweden’s entry into NATO last week, finally removing the biggest impediment to Stockholm’s accession. In exchange, the US State Department has notified Congress it will now approve the sale of 40 F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, plus kits to modernize Ankara's existing “Vipers.” Not a bad deal, but Turkey really wants what its rivals/allies across the Aegean are getting: the F-35.

Read moreShow less

FILE PHOTO: The President of the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speak at a press conference in Berlin on November 17th, 2023.

ddp/Andreas Gora via Reuters

Still no Swedish meatballs at the NATO cantina

Just days after the Swedish foreign minister said he was confident his country would join NATO “within weeks,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has thrown up another roadblock.

If you’re counting, the process has now dragged on for more than 18 months, as Turkey and Hungary are the two NATO member holdouts blocking Sweden’s formal accession to the alliance.

Read moreShow less

Subscribe to our free newsletter, GZERO Daily