Swedish parliamentarians have voted overwhelmingly in favour of closer ties with NATO today.
Swedish Radio reports that guards were called in to deal with protests form the public gallery.
There were fears that a Left Party proposal would delay the vote for a year. The proposal, which required the backing of the nationalist Sweden Democrats, was defeated 291 votes to 21.
The Host Nation Status agreement with NATO allows the Atlantic alliance’s forces t0 be based on Swedish territory and supported by Swedish resources.
Sweden’s concerns with Russian aggression have grown in recent years as Russian naval and air craft have violated Swedish territorial waters and airspace. Concerns about defense capabilities have become a major issue Sweden. Some Swedish groups have also raised question about Russia’s intentions on Sweden’s Baltic coast, pointing out the proximity of Russian pipelines to Sweden’s largest island, Gotland.
Sweden has cooperated with NATO in exercises and peacekeeping missions since the Cold War.
However, without full NATO membership, Sweden would not benefit from NATO’s Article 5 collective defence if it were faced with an attack from a foreign state.