Due to growing concerns about Russian aggression, Sweden joins its Nordic neighbors in reinstating military conscription.
Citing growing concerns about Russian aggression in the Baltic Sea, Swedish defense officials recently announced a return to military conscription. Marinette Nyh Radebo, a Swedish defense spokeswoman, said, “The Russian illegal annexation of Crimea [in 2014], the conflict in Ukraine and the increased military activity in our neighborhood are some of the reasons.”
The move by Sweden will affect both males and females, calling 13,000 young people to perform service tests. Of that group, 4,000 will be activated to undergo basic military training. The conscripts will serve nine to twelve months, and individual motivation to serve will be taken into consideration during the draft process.
There have been recent reports of Russian military violations of Baltic airspace fueling fears of the Russians potential for aggression in the area. There has also been a consolidation and subsequent build up of Russian forces in Kaliningrad, which is located just across the Baltic Sea from Sweden.
According to a press release from the Swedish government, “The security environment in Europe and in Sweden’s vicinity has deteriorated and the all-volunteer recruitment hasn’t provided the Armed Forces with enough trained personnel.” The Swedish military currently has approximately 20,000 members, making Sweden one of the most thinly defended countries on the Baltic Sea.
Sweden is not a member of NATO, but closely cooperates with Finland for national defense. Finland currently has a conscription model that is considered stricter than the other Nordic countries, requiring all men over the age of 18 to serve at least 347 days in the military. After initial service, the Finnish then go into the reserves.
The move by Sweden will ensure that it is holding up their end of the deal with Finland. “If we want full and trained military units, the voluntary system needs to be complemented by compulsory military service,” Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said in an interview with Swedish public broadcaster SVT.