Sweden to Send 800 Troops to Latvia Despite Pending NATO Membership

World Defense

Sweden to Send 800 Troops to Latvia Despite Pending NATO Membership

Defense News , Sweden :- In a strategic move to bolster NATO's presence in Latvia, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has revealed plans to deploy 800 troops early next year. This initiative aims to fortify Latvia's borders against potential Russian threats, aligning Sweden with a Canada-led multinational force already stationed in the area, which includes troops from Albania, Italy, Poland, and Spain.

As Stockholm awaits its imminent inclusion as NATO's 32nd member, only Turkey and Hungary remain to ratify its membership. The decision to abandon centuries-old military neutrality was prompted by Russia's occupation of Ukrainian territory, signaling Sweden's commitment to collective defense.

Canada currently maintains the largest troop presence in Latvia, with 1,700 soldiers, and has pledged to increase this number to 2,200 by 2026. Furthermore, Canada plans to enhance its capabilities by deploying Griffon and Chinook helicopters and investing 15 million Canadian dollars ($11.2 million) in new military infrastructure.

Sweden's NATO membership bid has encountered certain conditions, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan linking approval to Sweden's actions against militant Kurdish groups. In response, Sweden has agreed to extradite apprehended members and supporters of these groups, along with reinforcing anti-terrorism laws. Erdogan has indicated that Turkey's approval is contingent on the US greenlighting their requested purchase of F-16 fighter jets.

Despite the ongoing approval process, Sweden remains committed to supporting NATO. Prime Minister Kristersson declared in 2023 the country's willingness to establish NATO bases within its borders, intending to send a "clear signal to Russia" and strengthen Sweden's overall defense capabilities. As these diplomatic and military efforts unfold, Sweden's evolving role within NATO signifies a proactive stance in addressing regional security challenges.

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