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READER INSIGHTS

Majority of foreigners in Sweden would aid defence struggle: reader survey

As many as three quarters of foreigners living in Sweden would be willing to participate in Sweden's defence if the country were invaded, according an (admittedly self-selecting and unscientific) survey of The Local's readers.

A volunteer runs an emergency food store during an exercise run by Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency.
A volunteer runs an emergency food store during an exercise run by Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency. Photo: Civil Contingencies Agency

Of the 184 people who responded to The Local’s survey, a full 23 percent said they would even be willing to defend their adopted country, in “a combat role which puts your life at risk”, while 16.7 percent said they would be willing to risk their life for the country, but only in a non-combat role.

“I would gladly fight for this country and its citizens and residents,” said Edith Betancourt, a reader from Mexico. “Sweden welcomed me when I needed to find finally a place to call home.”

Under the Sweden’s total defence law, everyone aged 16-70 living in Sweden has a legal duty to help defend the country, even if they are not Swedish citizens, although only Swedish citizens can join the volunteer Home Guard.

It is important to underline the fact that the current risk of invasion is low. Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson stressed in her address to the nation last week that there was no “immediate threat of an armed attack” against Sweden. 

In addition, Swedish military strategists argue that with most of Russia’s army now fully engaged in Ukraine, an attack would be almost impossible

Others were less enthusiastic, however, with many admitting that they planned to leave the country as soon as possible if they felt there was a real risk of attack. 

“We’ve had a discussion about what we would do if there was a threat present,” said one American respondent with a Swedish live-in boyfriend. “I would go back to the States immediately, but he’d likely stay here. It’s not an optimal set up, but I don’t LOVE Sweden. I’m not willing to die for a country I don’t feel particularly welcome in.”

A further 35 percent of respondents said they would be willing to defend Sweden in “a non-combat role which does not put your life at risk”.

When the Swedish Defence Research Agency carried out a survey of 2,200 Swedish residents for Statistics Sweden, they found that 84 percent would be willing to help defend the country.

Some 49 percent willing to do so in a combat role that risked their lives, and 77 percent in a non-combat role that risked their lives.

You can read the full results of our survey here

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BREAKING

‘This is a good day’: Sweden and Finland submit bids to join Nato

Sweden and Finland's ambassadors to Nato handed over their countries' applications to join the security alliance at its Brussels headquarters at 8am on Wednesday.

'This is a good day': Sweden and Finland submit bids to join Nato

Sweden’s ambassador to Nato, Axel Wernhoff, together with his Finnish colleague Klaus Korhonen, crossed the road from their offices to submit the two countries’ indication letters, both signed yesterday by their respective foreign ministers, at Nato’s headquarters. 

They were met by Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who thanked the two countries for what he called “a historic step”. 

“This is a good day at a critical moment for our security,” he said. “You have both made your choice after thorough democratic processes and I warmly welcome the requests by both Sweden and Finland to join Nato. You are our closest partners and your membership in Nato would increase our shared security.”  

Nato’s ambassadors met at 10am to discuss the two countries applications.  Until a few days ago, Nato was expected to take less than a day to decide to formally invite the two countries to join from the time the letters were submitted. 

But according to Sweden’s TT newswire, the attempts of Turkey to block the two countries may delay this until early next week. 

Turkey, which like all member states has a veto over new members, has accused Sweden and Finland of acting as safe
havens for armed Kurdish groups opposed to Ankara. 

In a veiled reference to Turkey’s recent threat to block Sweden and Finland’s application, Stoltenberg expressed Nato’s willingness to work through any outstanding issues. 

“The security issues of all allies have to be taken into account and we are determined to work through all issues and reach rapid conclusions,” he said. 

He also pointed to the promises of security support for Sweden during the transition phase, that have come in recent days from member states, adding that Nato was “already vigilant in the Baltic Sea region”. Nato and its allies would continue, he said, “to adapt as necessary.”  

Stoltenberg has been working from home after testing positive for Covid-19 last week. 

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