Sweden defense minister: Swift NATO membership key to support Ukraine

Sweden's defense minister Pal Jonson says his country's swift accession to NATO would help bolster the military alliance's capability to counter threats from Russia.

In an exclusive interview with NHK in Stockholm on Monday, Jonson said that Sweden has a strong defense industrial base, which he said is part of "credible deterrence."

Hungary remains the sole member nation that has not approved Sweden's entry to NATO.

Jonson expressed hope that discussions will progress within Hungary's parliament, saying Sweden is in dialogue with Hungary and the country said it is going to ratify Sweden's membership.

Jonson suggested that his country can play a key role in NATO with its strong defense industrial base and a strong intelligence community "especially focusing on Russia."

Sweden and Ukraine have been discussing since last August the possible provision of Swedish-made Gripen fighter jets to Kyiv.

Jonson said Sweden has to become a NATO member before it can make such a decision.

He said Russia has not been successful so far in its war against Ukraine. But he stressed the importance for Western nations to continue to support Kyiv, particularly by providing more artillery ammunition and air defense systems.