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MILITARY

Sweden faces increased risk of Russian retaliation: Swedish Armed Forces

Sweden's support for Ukraine and participation in the coordinated international response to Russia's invasion has increased the risk of retaliation, the Swedish Armed Forces said in the first of its new weekly press conferences.

Michael Claesson, operative chief of the Swedish Armed Forces led the press conference on Thursday.
Michael Claesson, operative chief of the Swedish Armed Forces led the press conference on Thursday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

“There is a range of possible Russian retaliatory actions which could be aimed at Sweden,” Lieutenant General Michael Claesson, the Swedish Armed Forces’ chief of operations, said. “[Some of the things] in the Russian toolbox include influence operations, discrediting important individuals, cyber-attacks, sabotage, and more.”

Claesson was speaking at the first of the Swedish Armed Forces’ new weekly press conferences on the security situation, which will be broadcast directly at 3pm every Thursday for so long as the Russian invasion is destabilising the region. 

The press conferences will serve a similar function to the daily and then weekly press conferences that the Swedish Public Health Agency used to keep the population updated during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Claesson said that the unexpectedly united response from the EU and from Nato had led to a heightened tone in Russian rhetoric and an increased risk of concrete retaliatory actions.

But he also said that the judgement of the Swedish Armed Forces was that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was not going to plan. “The Russian weaknesses and Ukrainian resistance provide hope,”  he said.

While the invasion had brought some new things to light, such as Russia’s effective control of Belarus and its perhaps closer than expected links to China, he said that the Armed Forces did not currently see any unexpected military activity in the immediate vicinity of Sweden. 

Jan Kinnander, head of the Security Office at Sweden’s Military Intelligence Service (Must), said that the intelligence threat against Sweden remained unchanged at the level it has been at since 2016, the fourth-highest level on a five-level scale.

“This isn’t something we have increased now, rather we have seen that this threat has existed for a long time. We increased the level of threat in 2016, and we can see that it is still at that high level,” he said.

“When we discuss the collection of intelligence, we mean technical intelligence such as signal-tracing or cyber operations with the aim of securing information, and we mean a person-based collection of information, which essentially refers to making contact with individuals and trying to gain information.”

He said that he believed that the recent outage on the Civil Contingencies Agency may have been the rest DDOoS attack from a foreign power, although he said it may also have simply been a technical fault. 

Member comments

  1. Level of alert boosted as from……2016 !!!!
    Did anyone listen in Europe ?
    Nope…….even when a country decides to reinstate conscription……and now what ??
    A bit tardy !!

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NATO

Sweden ‘to send in Nato request on Monday’

Sweden will express its interest in joining the Nato alliance on Monday, Sweden's Expressen newspaper has reported, citing anonymous sources.

Sweden 'to send in Nato request on Monday'

According to the newspaper, Magdalena Andersson will call a governmental meeting late on Monday where the decision on whether to join Nato will be made, after which the country will send in formal documentation immediately.

Officials at Sweden’s foreign ministry have been drafting the text for several weeks, the paper claims, meaning it is now complete and ready to be submitted. 

The meeting will follow a debate scheduled in Sweden’s Riksdag parliament for 10.30am on Monday morning, which will discuss the conclusions of the Swedish government’s ‘security policy analysis group’, which is due to submit its reassessment of Sweden’s security situation this Friday. The anti-Nato Left and Green parties are unlikely to support the conclusions of the report and the report is not expected to state explicitly whether Sweden should join the alliance or not.

After the debate, Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, who is on a state visit to Sweden, will hold a speech in the parliament, with the title “a responsible, strong and stable North”. 

Finland on Thursday kicked off the formal process whereby Sweden and Finland are likely to join Nato, when its president Sauli Niinistö and prime minister Sanna Marin published a joint statement recommending that Finland apply to join “without delay”. 

On Sunday, the ruling committee of Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats will take a decision on whether to back Nato membership for Sweden, thereby reversing the policy of non-alignment it has supported since before Nato was founded. 

The formal shift in the Social Democrats’ position will remove the last hurdle to a Swedish decision in favour of joining Nato. 

Here’s a breakdown of how the day might look: 

  • 9am. The day starts at 9am, Swedish time, when the Finnish parliament meets to discuss the decision taken by the government on Sunday. No other parliamentary business is scheduled. According to the Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper the Finnish parliament will also publish the conclusions of its debates in a letter to the government recommending that Finland apply to join Nato.
  • 10.30am. A debate is scheduled in Sweden’s parliament, which will discuss the conclusions of the Swedish government’s ‘security policy analysis group’. 
  • 12am. Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, who is on a state visit to Sweden, will hold a speech in the parliament with the title “a responsible, strong and stable North”. 
  • Afternoon: According to Expressen, Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson will call a governmental meeting late on Monday, where the decision on whether to join Nato will be made.
  • Officials at Sweden’s foreign ministry have been drafting the text of the application for several weeks, the paper claims, meaning it is now complete and ready to be submitted. 
  • Afternoon/Evening: Sweden and perhaps Finland send in applications to join Nato.
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