Hungary to Allow Sweden Into NATO Following Jet Fighter Deal

Bloomberg:  Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban confirmed that his country will remove the last obstacle to Sweden’s NATO accession after the Nordic country agreed to sell Gripen jet fighters to Budapest.

The Hungarian parliament will take the “necessary decisions” to ratify the Nordic country’s NATO accession early next week, Orban said at a press conference with his Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson in the Hungarian capital on Friday.

The agreement on fighter jets will expand Hungary’s fleet of Swedish-built Gripen fighters to 18 from 14, and it also helps rebuild ties between the two countries, according to the Hungarian premier. He has previously blamed delays in the ratification process on a lack of trust following Swedish criticism over the erosion of democracy in Hungary.

Read more: Sweden on Cusp of NATO Entry as Hungary Plans Ratification

Monday’s vote in Hungary’s parliament is the final approval needed for Sweden’s entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — which will help the military alliance defend its eastern flank following Finland’s admission last April. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago spurred the two Nordic nations’ applications to join the bloc.

Hungary’s lease agreement for 14 Gripens will expire in early 2026, and ownership will then be transferred to Budapest, according to a statement from the Swedish government. Under the new agreement, Saab AB will supply an additional 4 aircraft and Sweden will also provide support and logistics to the Hungarian air force until 2036.

Last Holdout

The agreement on Friday marked a second time that discussions about jet fighters proved a necessary piece of the NATO puzzle for Sweden. When Turkey signed off on the Nordic country’s membership in January, it paved the way for a deal to buy F-16 warplanes from the U.S., and made Hungary the last holdout blocking Sweden’s accession.

Orban, the leader who is closest to Russia in the European Union, earlier reiterated his calls to stop supporting what he sees as a doomed effort by Ukraine to fend off Russia’s attacks. A victory by Donald Trump in November’s US elections would help sway the NATO alliance toward that stance, Orban said in a radio interview Friday.

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