STOCKHOLM — On the brink of joining NATO, Sweden has signed a defense cooperation agreement with Washington that will allow the United States access to all of the military bases across the Scandinavian country, saying the deal would bolster regional security.
Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson said the deal, signed in Washington Tuesday, “will create better conditions for Sweden to be able to receive support from the United States in the event of a war or crisis.”
Jonson told Swedish broadcaster SVT that it didn't mean that “all 17 locations will be used“ but ”where it is most important from a military perspective for them to be able to store defense equipment, for example.”
The deal was signed at the Pentagon by Jonson and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin who said that by adding the capabilities of the Swedish armed forces to NATO, ”we will get even stronger.”
The deal “sends a strong signal that we remain committed to addressing security challenges together,” Austin said.
Sweden's strategically important Baltic Sea island of Gotland sits a little more than 300 kilometers (186 miles) from the Russian Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad.
The United States struck a similar deal with Sweden's western neighbor, NATO member Norway, in 2021 and is currently negotiating such an agreement with NATO members Finland and Denmark, two other Nordic countries.
Sweden and its neighbor Finland decided to…