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Here’s what to know about Sweden’s bumpy road toward NATO membership

  • Sweden’s bid to join NATO — held up for almost two years — cleared its last hurdle when Hungary gave its go-ahead Monday to let the Nordic country into the alliance. It brought an end to more than 18 months of delays by the nationalist government in Budapest that have frustrated Hungary’s allies. All existing NATO countries must give their approval before a new member can join the alliance.

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Navalny was close to being freed in prisoner swap, ally says

STORY: A close ally of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny says he was close to being freed in a prisoner swap at the time of his death.But that President Vladimir Putin could not tolerate the thought of him being released, and had him killed.Maria Pevchikh's comments on Monday (February 26) echo accusations by Navalny's family and supporters that President Vladimir Putin had ordered his death.Speaking on YouTube, she said talks about exchanging Navalny and two unnamed U.S. nationals for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian FSB security service hit man in jail in Germany for murder, were in their final stages at the time of his death.“Alexei Navalny could today, right now, sit in this very place. This is not just a figure of speech. This could have and should have happened. Navalny was supposed to be set free in the coming days. Because we have achieved a decision on his exchange.”47-year-old Navalny died at an Arctic penal colony on February 16. Pevchikh said she had confirmation that negotiations for the swap were in their final stages on the evening of February 15.She alleges Navalny had been killed a day later because Putin could not bear the thought of him being free.There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin - which has denied state involvement in his death. Navalny's supporters say his death certificate stated that he died of natural causes.Pevchikh is based outside of Russia and has been designated a "foreign agent" by the country, where authorities accuse her of involvement in an extremist organization. She did not immediately present documentary evidence for her assertion.But did claim that businessman Roman Abramovich had been the one to float the idea to Putin of exchanging Navalny. There was no immediate comment from Abramovich either.Pevchikh did not name the two U.S. nationals in contention to be swapped along with Navalny. However the United States has said it is trying to return Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine.Russia accuses both men of espionage - something they deny.Putin this month said that talks between Russian and U.S. intelligence agencies were going on behind the scenes related to Gershkovich. But he made no mention of Navalny, whose name he does not usually mention publicly.
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