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MILITARY

Report confirms ‘one-week defence’ analysis

A new academic report has thrown its weight behind the statement by commander-in-chief Sverker Göranson who recently said Sweden could only fend off an invasion for maximum one week.

Report confirms 'one-week defence' analysis

“Can We Defend Ourselves For a Week?” the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences (Kungliga Krigsvetenskapsakademin) asked in the title of its report, published this week.

The report echoed comments made by armed forces chief Göranson in the media in early January, when he said the country would only be able to hold off an attack for “about a week”, following repeated cuts to the defence budget.

Göranson has since been on sick leave for exhaustion.

The Academy’s study, conducted in 2011 and 2012, supported his analysis of the situation.

“We think the military does not have a credible ability to defend all of Sweden,” the report authors noted.

“In the event of a possible attack against Sweden, we would always need help from abroad.”

Göranson’s comments in January, timed in advance of the annual defence conference People and Defence (Folk och Försvar) in the ski resort of Sälen, reignited the debate about Sweden’s potential membership of Nato.

The report this week called for greater analysis of whether Sweden had the foreign backup needed in case of conflict.

“We think that the authorities should rapidly study the conditions and possibilities of obtaining such assistance,” it read.

“So that any potential crisis in the Baltic region can quickly be resolved, thereby avoiding any act of war from being undertaken.”

The Academy highlighted a lack of personnel, logistic capacity to supply troops, anti-air defence, anti-tank weapons and aircraft.

It further noted that the Swedish military’s increased engagement on foreign missions had shifted the focus away from domestic defence.

The report singled out the Baltic Sea island of Gotland, located between southern Sweden and Latvia, as particularly strategic and vulnerable.

It said, however, that “the military’s capacity for international operations is good, even excellent.”

In Sweden’s 2013 budget, the defence allowance accounts for only 1.2 percent of gross domestic product, a level that has been in continuous decline. In 2007, it was 1.5 percent.

AFP/The Local/at

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SWEDEN AND RUSSIA

Sweden joining Nato ‘no problem for Russia’

Russia has "no problem" if Finland and Sweden join Nato, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

Sweden joining Nato 'no problem for Russia'

“We don’t have problems with Sweden and Finland like we do with Ukraine,” Putin told a news conference in the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat.

“We don’t have territorial differences. There is nothing that could bother us about Sweden and Finland joining Nato. If Finland and Sweden wish to, they can join. That’s up to them. They can join whatever they want.”

However, “if military contingents and military infrastructure were deployed there, we would be obliged to respond symmetrically and raise the same threats for those territories where threats have arisen for us,” Putin said.

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Sweden and Finland have both decided to apply to join Nato after Russia launched its military operation in pro-Western Ukraine on February 24. The formal process for membership was launched at the Nato summit in Madrid on Wednesday.

Until now, Russia had always been critical of the prospect of the two Nordic countries joining the alliance, saying it would be a “destabilising factor” for international security. Putin nevertheless condemned Nato’s “imperial ambitions”, accusing the alliance of seeking to assert its “supremacy” through the Ukraine conflict.

“Ukraine and the well-being of Ukrainian people is not the aim of the collective West and Nato but a means to defend their own interests,” Putin said. “The Nato countries’ leaders wish to… assert their supremacy, their imperial ambitions.” 

The Atlantic alliance and “above all the United States have long needed an external enemy around which they can unite their allies,” the Russian leader said. “Iran wasn’t good for that. We’ve given them this opportunity… to gather the whole world around them.”

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