There is war in Europe.
At this moment, cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Mariupol are being attacked by Russian forces.
Our anger means we are all affected by the attack on the people of Ukraine.
We are also filled with admiration for all the Ukrainians who are banding together in furious defence of their democracy and their freedom.
Russia’s armed attack on Ukraine is unprovoked, illegal, and indefensible.
The Kremlin claims that Ukraine belongs to a special Russian sphere of interest.
But in the Europe of today, there is no place for ‘spheres of influence’.
If Russia succeeds in submitting Ukraine under its dominance, it will open up for similar demands on other countries.
Russia’s armed attack is not just an attack on Ukraine, it is an attack on every country’s right to decide its own future.
It represents a threat to international peace and security.
That’s why Sweden, the EU, and many other countries are banding together behind Ukraine.
The Swedish government’s measures cover three areas: sanctions against Russia, support to Ukraine, and to strengthen Sweden.
Those of us within the EU have, together with our partners, answered swiftly and decisively with very far-reaching sanctions against Russia and Russia’s leadership.
That work continues.
Europe supports Ukraine both with words and actions. With economic and humanitarian support. With asylum for the Ukrainians fleeting the war. But also with support to Ukraine’s legal right to defend itself as a country.
On Monday, Sweden’s parliament decided with a big majority to send support to Ukraine’s armed forces, with defensive weapons included. Sweden has not done anything like this since the Soviet Union attacked Finland in 1939.
Many Swedes see this as simply offering a helping hand to those who are under attack. But I know that there are also some who ask whether this might have consequences for Sweden. Will we as a result become a target for Russian retribution?
I have carefully weighed up both sides of the argument. As Prime Minister, my first and last question before every decision is “what is best for the security of Sweden?”.
My conclusion is that Sweden’s security is best served by helping Ukraine to defend itself. Their defence of their borders amounts to a defence of every country’s borders, and of the international law which gives protection to every country in the world.
The security situation in Sweden’s neighbourhood has been worsening for several years, now the situation has become still more acute. We do not face a direct threat of an armed attack in Sweden, but the threat assessment has worsened.
The Swedish people are the target of Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns. The aim is to frighten us, silence us, and sow division — within the EU, within Sweden, and between individuals. Swedish interests are also targeted by cyber espionage and cyber attacks.
The government is cooperating with all those affected to help maintain and strengthen our ability to resist this type of attack.
We have also driving through a major strengthening of our country’s total defence concept. It’s clear that the pace must now pick up.
That is why I am announcing that the government is going to take the initiative to divert still more resources to total defence.
Sweden’s defence capabilities must be strengthened, the reestablishment must be brought forward. Sweden should have a strong defence, a total defence by the Swedish people of the Swedish people.
We must also be prepared for the consequences of Russia’s war on our everyday lives. The prices of fuel and electricity are already rising. Other goods may also get more expensive, for example, groceries. Retail investors may see their pension funds under pressure. Swedish jobs and businesses may be hit.
The government and the Swedish authorities are following developments very closely.
My government is taking a clear position in this situation: sanctions against Russia, support Ukraine, and strengthen Sweden.
But every one of us must do their part. First of all: keep yourself informed. Look for information from trustworthy sources. Use your judgement. Every person who spreads disinformation risks undermining our common security.
You should also avoid spreading on Sweden’s defence. Each bit of information on exercises and movements is a piece of the puzzle for foreign actors.
And most of all: support one another. In particular, keep an eye on children and young people. They often are exposed to more information that we adults might like. So they need adults who can listen to them and explain.
As so many Swedes already have, you can also support the people of Ukraine. Donate money or go to a peaceful demonstration. None of us can do everything but every little action makes a difference.
Finally, in recent years, we have already gone through one difficult crisis: the global pandemic. It has been a painful and challenging time. But it has brought important lessons. One of them is that when tough demands are placed upon us, we can band together, as a country and as fellow human beings.
Now the times have brought us a new task that again demands that we Swedes band together. In solidarity with the Ukrainian people. In defence of democracy and peace. For the security of all of Europe.
Sweden and its people are going to rise to the task.
Thanks for listening.”
You can read and watch the speech in Swedish here.
The speech was translated by The Local and is not an official translation.