'There could be war in Sweden': Civil Defence Minister urges Swedes to act

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
'There could be war in Sweden': Civil Defence Minister urges Swedes to act
Sweden's Civil Defence Minister Carl-Oskar Bohlin, Defence Minister Pål Jonson and Foreign Minister Tobias Billström at the Folk och Försvar defence conference in 2024. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

An unbroken streak of more than 200 years of peace shouldn’t lull Swedes into a false sense of security, said Civil Defence Minister Carl-Oskar Bohlin as he urged everyone to ‘get moving’.


All Swedes need to act now to boost the country’s resilience in the event of war, Bohlin told the annual “Folk och Försvar” conference on defence, held as usual at the Sälen ski resort.

He argued in his speech that peace is not an “immoveable constant”, not even in Sweden, and that assuming it is “has become more dangerous than it has been for a very long time”.

“Many have said it before me, but let me do so in an official capacity, more plainly and with naked clarity: There could be war in Sweden,” he said.

He didn’t appear to suggest that an armed conflict was a guarantee or imminent, but rather that the theoretical possibility of war exists in Sweden, too, despite being a traditionally peaceful country.

Bohlin urged everyone to help build Sweden’s total defence.

He urged council officials to secure refuge points, an emergency water plan and food supply, and employees to ask their employer what their role would be in the workplace’s war organisation and consider what essentials they would need to be able to continue working in difficult circumstances.

“Are you a private individual? Good, then have you taken responsibility for your home preparedness? Have you considered whether you have time to join a voluntary defence organisation? If not: get moving!” said Bohlin and advised people to ask others who have already started preparing, or get more information from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.



He told Swedes to be inspired by Ukraine, who met Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022 with “all-out resistance”.

"Civil defence is not primarily a theoretical exercise. Awareness must be translated into practical action. Measures that actually raise the threshold," he said, adding that anyone who hasn’t started is already falling behind.

"Everyone has to understand that in the situation we find ourselves in, time may be our most precious non-renewable resource. If there is one thing that keeps me awake at night, it is the feeling that things are moving too slowly."

He said the government offices also needed to step up the pace.

“Whatever can be done quickly must be done quickly – there should be no needlessly long discussions, and where there are shortcuts we should take them. Good enough tomorrow is better than perfect in five years.”


Bohlin’s speech didn’t appear to be linked to any specific recent threat against Sweden, but rather follows a series of warnings from the government and other actors that the country needs to step up its military and civilian defence in light of an increasingly aggressive Russia.

Sweden began rebuilding its system of Total Defence in 2015, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Since then, every public authority again became responsible for taking part in defence and preparing and planning for a possible attack. Sweden reintroduced military conscription in 2018, and in 2022 broke a tradition of military non-alignment when it applied to join Nato.

Micael Bydén, Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, echoed Bohlin’s warning.

“We must understand how serious this situation really is and that you, down to an individual level, mentally prepare. Watch the news coverage from Ukraine and ask yourself simple questions: If this happens here, do I have things in place? What should I do? The more people who have thought about that and prepared, the stronger our society is,” Bydén told broadcaster TV4 on Monday.


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