WASHINGTON — Sweden is on the doorstep of NATO.

This week, Turkey’s parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of Stockholm’s membership in the defense alliance. Viktor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, the only other remaining holdout, posted today on the social media site X that he was also in favor.

“I reaffirmed that the Hungarian government supports the NATO-membership of #Sweden,” Orban wrote, describing a phone conversation with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. “I also stressed that we will continue to urge the Hungarian National Assembly to vote in favor of Sweden’s accession and conclude the #ratification at the first possible opportunity.”

Sweden applied for NATO membership in May of 2022, just months after Russia invaded Ukraine. The decision was a sharp turn in Swedish foreign policy, which had previously favored a non-aligned status.

Finland, which similarly applied in 2022, earned full membership last April.

In an interview with Defense News just before Turkey’s parliament finished voting, Sweden’s top military official Gen. Michael Claesson anxiously watched his phone for the final tally. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has delayed the vote to this point, still needs to give Ankara’s final okay.

“The Hungarian process is not yet concluded,” Claesson cautioned. “But I’m hopeful.”

Claesson said that after so many delays, he was wary of predicting a final approval date. But he said it would come before the NATO summit in Washington this summer.

While in limbo, he added, Sweden has done as much as it can to prepare for NATO membership without actually becoming a full member. But until the confirming vote from Hungary, Stockholm will still lack access to the bloc’s full range of intelligence, cryptography and technical standards, and won’t be factored into operational plans.

A top priority, Claesson said, is integrating into NATO’s missile defense network.

“That is also, technically and interoperability-wise, quite complex,” he said.

During his trip to Washington, Claesson met with American military officials — including the vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — and think tanks, including the isolationist-leaning Heritage Foundation.

Just hours earlier, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Celeste Wallander had briefed reporters after the countries supporting Ukraine gathered for the first time since American security aid ran empty. She warned that the pause was leading to shortages of ammunition on the front lines — shortages Russia has tried, and so far failed, to exploit.

A giant supplemental defense spending bill is currently mired in Congress. Senators have yet to release the text of a deal on border security, which could free some $61 billion in further aid to Kyiv.

Claesson noted that pro-Ukraine leaders in Europe’s capitals similarly find themselves having to clamor for military aid to the country.

“We have ... more or less the same challenges in terms of where the cohesion of the European Union is taking us in this issue,” Claesson said. “I take nothing for granted.”

Noah Robertson is the Pentagon reporter at Defense News. He previously covered national security for the Christian Science Monitor. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and government from the College of William & Mary in his hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia.

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