A new report from a Swedish parliament defense committee has concluded that it cannot rule out a Russian military attack on the country, according to the broadcaster SVT. 

This isn’t actually a change in stance by Sweden. A previous analysis conducted five years ago, concluded: “An armed attack against Sweden cannot be ruled out.

“It also cannot be ruled out that military means of force or further threats of such may be used against Sweden.”

So why the new report?

What is concerning to Sweden is that they believe Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine demonstrates that the Kremlin’s threshold for launching wars has shifted dramatically. 

The report says: “Russia has also further lowered its threshold for the use of military force and exhibits a high political and military risk appetite. 

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“Russia's ability to carry out operations with air forces, naval forces, long-range weapons or nuclear weapons against Sweden remains intact.”

What does Sweden plan to do about it? 

This is another factor that has changed massively in the five years since the last report.

At that time, Swedish defense doctrine relied on cooperation with fellow Nordic states and the EU, but again, the full-scale invasion of Ukraine has completely changed the game.

Sweden and its Nordic neighbor Finland ended decades of military non-alignment and applied to join NATO last year. 

What Does NATO Entry Mean For Sweden?
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“Sweden's vital national security interest is to assert our country's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the new report says.

“We are prepared to ultimately defend our country, our population, our democracy, our freedom and our way of life with armed force.”

When will Sweden join NATO? 

Finland joined NATO back in April, becoming the bloc’s 31st member in a relatively painless process. 

Sweden’s attempt has been far trickier, however. Turkey and fellow NATO member Hungary – both pushing a more accommodating line with Russia – were the last to ratify Finland's membership this year and both countries' parliaments have yet to approve Sweden's entry.

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Unanimous backing is needed for new countries to secure the guarantees afforded by the world's most powerful defense alliance. 

What’s the hold-up?

Turkey accuses Sweden of harboring Kurdish militants that it considers terrorists, and Hungary's ruling right-wing party Fidesz led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has complained that Stockholm has unfairly criticized Hungarian government policy.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week rebuffed growing international pressure on Ankara to ratify Sweden's NATO membership bid before the Western defense alliance meets in July.

Western officials had hoped Erdogan would soften his position on the diplomatically charged issue after he secured a hard-fought re-election last month.

But Erdogan signaled no major shift in comments released by his office as Turkish and Swedish officials were locked in a new round of talks in Ankara. 

"Sweden has expectations. It doesn't mean that we will comply with them," Erdogan was quoted as saying.

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"In order for us to meet these expectations, first of all, Sweden must do its part."

Is anything being done to get it moving?

Sweden has already toughened its anti-terrorism legislation and taken other measures aimed at meeting Turkey's concerns.

It has agreed to extradite a self-proclaimed supporter of the Kurdish militants convicted of drug trafficking and arrested in Sweden in August last year. 

US President Joe Biden pressed Erdogan about Sweden during a call he placed a day after the Turkish leader extended his two-decade rule until 2028.

Ankara hopes to win US congressional approval of a major defense package that could substantially modernize Turkey's ageing fleet of fighter jets.

Biden directly linked the F-16 fighters' sale with the Swedish bid for the first time. Erdogan "still wants to work on something on the F-16s. I told him we wanted a deal with Sweden, so let's get that done," Biden told reporters after the call.

And NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg personally discussed the bid with Erdogan in Istanbul ahead of an alliance summit in Lithuania in July.

Erdogan noted that Stoltenberg's visit coincided with a protest held in Stockholm by supporters of a Kurdish group classified as a terrorist organization by Ankara, and Turkey is pushing Sweden to crack down on such rallies.

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"There are rights given to [Sweden's] law enforcement under the constitution. Use those rights," Erdogan said.

"If you don't deal with it, we cannot [say yes] at the summit in Vilnius."

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