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In a significant geopolitical development, Sweden has gained approval to become the 32nd member of the NATO military alliance, marking a blow to Russia as Hungary, the

final holdout, granted its consent.

The path was cleared for Sweden's accession after Hungary, previously reluctant, conducted a parliamentary vote to endorse the move, with an overwhelming majority of 188 votes in favor and only 6 against.

Sweden's decision to join NATO reflects a significant shift in its military stance, driven in part by Russia's aggression in Ukraine. The move comes amid growing uncertainty surrounding NATO's future, particularly with regards to security guarantees, as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump threatens to reconsider commitments to European defense.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary, known for his close ties to Russian President Putin, had delayed approval of Sweden's NATO bid for over 600 days. However, he ultimately relented, paving the way for unanimous ratification by all existing NATO members.

The confirmation of Sweden's membership is expected to be celebrated with a flag-raising ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels later this week, following in the footsteps of fellow Nordic nation Finland, which joined the alliance less than a year ago.

Orbán's decision to greenlight Sweden's NATO entry followed talks with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, culminating in the signing of a defense agreement aimed at improving relations strained by concerns over human rights and the rule of law in Hungary.

The move underscores Sweden's strategic shift towards NATO, a move that has rattled Russia, which views the expansion of the alliance as a direct threat. Moscow has previously issued warnings and engaged in provocative actions, particularly in the Baltic Sea region, where increased NATO presence has tightened security measures.

Kristersson hailed the approval as a "historic day," emphasizing Sweden's readiness to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the decision, stating that Sweden's membership would enhance collective security.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also expressed support, highlighting the benefits of Sweden's accession for all NATO allies. He noted that the Hungarian parliament's approval marked a positive step towards strengthening the alliance. Photo by Estonian Foreign Ministry, Wikimedia commons.

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