The United States and Sweden have maintained a close bilateral friendship ever since 1783, when Sweden was one of the first countries to recognize U.S. independence. The United States and Sweden have maintained security ties and a robust defense trade relationship.
Sweden’s Security & Defense Agreements
The United States and Sweden have the following [5 MB]: a General Security of Military Information Agreement (1981); a Basic Exchange and Cooperative Agreement (2011); and an Acquisition and Cross-servicing Agreement (ACSA) (2017). Sweden is also Party to the NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). These documents establish a framework for enhanced partnership and defense and security cooperation between the United States and Sweden.
Sweden’s Partnership with NATO
Following Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine, Sweden has sought to deepen its partnership with NATO as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner (EOP) by applying for full membership in May 2022. As President Biden said when he signed the U.S. instruments of ratifications for the accession protocols, “our Alliance is closer than ever. It is more united than ever. And when Finland and Sweden bring the number of Allies to 32, we will be stronger than ever.”
There is strong Allied support for Finland’s and Sweden’s membership applications. In seeking to join NATO, Finland and Sweden acknowledge they will make the sacred commitment to Article 5 – that an attack against one is an attack against all.
Sweden’s Assistance to Ukraine
Following Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Sweden has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine’s sovereignty, providing military and humanitarian aid. Since February, Sweden has supplied Ukraine with over SEK 6 billion ($570 million) in military assistance, including anti-tank weapons, air defense weapons systems, and light all-terrain vehicles.
U.S. Arms Sales and Defense Trade with Sweden
The United States and Sweden have a strong defense trade relationship that advances U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by strengthening the military capabilities of a strategic partner, improving regional stability in the Baltic Sea region, and supporting the U.S. defense industrial base.
The United States has approximately $1.95 billion worth of active sales cases for U.S.-origin defense articles and services to Sweden under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Recent and significant sales are listed here, and include Patriot Configuration-3+ Missiles, C-17 aircraft and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support, and UH-60M Blackhawk Helicopters.
FMS are financed primarily by national funds, but also with additional U.S. Security Assistance (e.g., through Foreign Military Financing). Under the Foreign Military Sales program, the Department of State determines which countries may purchase defense articles, and the Department of Defense executes these arms transfers.
From FY 2017 to FY 2021, the United States authorized the permanent export of $2.9 billion in defense articles (including agreements) to Sweden via Direct Commercial Sales (DCS). The top USML categories were XIX: Gas Turbine Engines ($703 million), XI: Military Electronics ($55 million), and VIII: Aircraft ($52 million).
Under DCS, PM’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (PM/DDTC) provides regulatory approvals in sales of defense equipment, services, and related manufacturing technologies controlled under the 21 categories of the U.S. Munitions List (USML). These sales are negotiated privately between foreign end-users and U.S. companies.
The United States also provides Excess Defense Articles (EDA) to support Sweden’s defensive capabilities. This has included four transfers in the past five years in areas such as missile defense, with a total acquisition value of $88.8 million.
The United States and Sweden also collaborate on international arms control. Sweden is a Party to several export control regimes, including the Wassenaar Arrangement (which regulates transfers of conventional arms and dual-use technologies).
Sweden’s Participation in Global Peacekeeping
Since 1948, Swedish peacekeepers have taken part in several international peacekeeping and crisis management operations. This includes service in ten UN-led missions, as well as NATO Mission Iraq and the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR). As of September 2022, Sweden contributes two experts to MINURSO, as well as 226 police, staff officers, troops, and experts to MINUSCA, MINUSMA, MONUSCO, UNFICYP, UNMISS, UNMOGIP, UNSOM, UNTSO, and UNVMC, for a total of 228. Thirty of these professionals are women.
Sweden’s Contributions to Humanitarian De-mining
Sweden is an important partner in humanitarian demining, with the government providing explosive ordnance risk education and mine action programs in countries including Iraq and Ukraine.
U.S. Defense Cooperation with Sweden
Sweden participates in a number of multilateral military exercises with the United States and NATO, including Defender Europe, BALTOPS, Northern Wind, Freezing Winds, and Nordic Strike.
Sweden’s Membership in International Organizations
The United States and Sweden belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, among others. Sweden is an Enhanced Opportunity Partner (EOP) in NATO; however, as of May 2022, Sweden has applied for NATO membership.
As a Nordic country, Sweden is a strong proponent of international engagement and multilateralism. Sweden is also one of the largest donors of humanitarian assistance, giving approximately 1% of its Gross National Product annually and prioritizing gender equality in its development assistance. Sweden is also an important contributor to international peacekeeping missions.
Sweden is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, participates in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and serves as the United States’ protecting power in North Korea.
Sweden is also a member of the Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe (E-PINE) forum to support cooperative engagement, strengthen healthy societies, and support vibrant economies in the region and beyond.