Sweden to join European Sky Shield Initiative: PM



Sweden will be part of the European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI) and participate in air policing over the Baltics, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Sunday.

The Scandinavian country, which last year decided to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is also prepared to participate in air policing above the Black Sea and Iceland, Swedish Television quoted Kristersson as saying at an annual defense and security policy conference in Salen, some 430 kilometers northwest of Stockholm.

Spearheaded by Germany and launched at a NATO defense ministers' meeting in October 2022, the ESSI aims to create a European air and missile defense system through the common acquisition of air defense equipment and missiles by European nations, and strengthen NATO's Integrated Air and Missile Defense, according to NATO.

Sweden and Finland simultaneously submitted their formal requests to join NATO in May 2022. But so far, two NATO allies, Hungary and Türkiye, have yet to ratify their accession protocols.

In a statement on Sunday, NATO said its secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, met with Kristersson and Swedish foreign and defense ministers on the sidelines of the security conference.

Speaking at the conference, Stoltenberg said it is "even more important" that Sweden and Finland become NATO members "in a more dangerous world."

Stoltenberg voiced confidence that "we will soon be able to warmly welcome" Sweden and Finland into the alliance.