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    A general view of the Swedish Pariament during the Parliamentary debate about the government's budget proposal on December 3, 2014 in Stockholm, Sweden

    Swedish Pro-NATO Sentiment Growing, Spurred by Ukraine Crisis

    © AFP 2018 / TT NEWS AGENCY / HENRIK MONTGOMERY
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    According to Swedish lawmaker, Sweden could join NATO in the near future as the pro-NATO sentiment has been growing in the society.

    STRASBOURG (Sputnik), Daria Chernyshova Sweden could join NATO in the near future as the pro-NATO sentiment has been growing in the Swedish society, a local lawmaker told Sputnik Tuesday.

    "Right now we had an agreement across party lines in the parliament that we will look into NATO as well as other alliance, and it is not a secret that there is a big discussion in the Swedish parliament whether we should join NATO or not. I believe that there will be a majority quite soon to join NATO, though the Social Democratic Party still very much against," Olof Lavesson said.

    Lavesson, who is a member of the opposition Moderate Party, added that there soon could be a majority in the Swedish society to join NATO even though the ruling Social Democratic Party is "still very much against" the move.

    Sweden does not consider Russia to be a threat to its territorial integrity despite allegations Moscow has been meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs, a Swedish lawmaker said.

    "I don't see it [Russia] as a danger of the Swedish territory, however the situation is escalating and it is quite near us also geographically. There is also some fear in Finland, so of course we are monitoring this very closely," Olof Lavesson said.

    The West has accused Russia of stirring up the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine, a claim Moscow has repeatedly denied.

    In response to Russia's alleged role in the Ukraine conflict, NATO has stepped up its joint military exercises with the Baltic States and Poland, raising concerns in Moscow that the bloc is building up its presence near Russia's border.

    Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia was also concerned with the United States sticking to their plans of deploying its missile defense shield in Europe despite reaching a framework agreement with Iran on the country's controversial nuclear energy program.

    In 2009, US President Barack Obama said in his much-publicized speech in Prague that if the Iranian "threat" was eliminated, the "driving force" for missile defense construction in Europe would be removed.

    Sweden has been pursuing a policy of neutrality in armed conflicts since the early 19th century. Stockholm opted not to join NATO in 1949, declaring a security policy aiming for non-alignment.

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