NATO’s Nordic enlargement

Reconfiguring Sweden’s foreign policy identity after 200 years of neutrality and non-alignment


  • Minna Ålander Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Sanna Salo Finnish Institute of International Affairs


Prompted by Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, Sweden and Finland have undergone a paradigm shift in their foreign policies as they decided to abandon the doctrine of military non-alignment and join NATO. In this discussion article, we argue that the policy changes have been accompanied by fundamental shifts in the countries’ identities. This is particularly the case for Sweden, which long perceived itself as a ‘moral superpower’ in both foreign and domestic policy terms. A key transformation brought about by the changes in the security environment has been a reconfiguration of the relationship between Sweden and Finland. We argue that the changes in the two countries’ identities may be long-lasting, affecting the way in which Sweden and Finland perceive their positions among the Nordic countries – and the broader Western alliance.