PM Ulf Kristersson: 'If you don't want to defend Sweden – don't be a Swedish citizen'

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PM Ulf Kristersson: 'If you don't want to defend Sweden – don't be a Swedish citizen'
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson speaking at the Folk och Försvar defence conference at the Sälen ski resort. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Speaking at a defence conference, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said that everyone who wants to become a Swedish citizen should consider what it means to sacrifice their life for the country.


Kristersson, leader of the conservative Moderate Party, brought up citizenship in his speech to the annual Folk och Försvar defence conference on Monday.

“Ukraine has taught us that a country’s most important resource in the war is the people’s common will to defend themselves,” he told the audience.

“We, too, must begin to discuss the expectations that come with Swedish citizenship. Ultimately, it is about defending Sweden, our values and our way of life – with weapons in hand and our lives on the line. Citizenship is not a travel document.”

His speech came a day after Civil Defence Minister Carl-Oskar Bohlin sparked a stir when he told the conference that “there could be war in Sweden”, meaning that the country’s two centuries of peace do not protect it from war, sentiments echoed by Supreme Commander Micael Bydén.

At a press meeting after the speech, Kristersson elaborated on his comments.

“When you become a Swedish citizen, it’s not a small, formal matter, it’s a very big thing. You form a bond of loyalty with a country which ultimately means that you should also be able to do military service and defend this country,” the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper quoted him as saying.

“You defend Sweden’s democracy, our freedom and our governance. If you don’t want to do that, you shouldn’t be a Swedish citizen,” he continued.


He was then asked whether he could see a difference between people who are born as Swedish citizens and those who become citizens later in life in terms of their willingness to defend Sweden.

“My absolute point is that for a lot of people, the Swedish passport has become a way to be able to move around easily, to be able to get consular protection from Sweden. But I’m not sure that everyone has thought through what it means to also be prepared to sacrifice one’s life for the country of which you’re a citizen,” Svenska Dagbladet quoted him as saying.



Sweden's so-called "total defence" strategy actually applies to everyone who lives in the country, regardless of whether or not they are a citizen. It includes both military and civil defence, although non-citizens would be expected to help with the latter rather than the former.

Total defence, a historic doctrine that was brought back in 2015 after Russia's annexation of Crimea, means that every adult in Sweden – as well as for example government agencies, municipalities, voluntary organisations, regional councils, businesses, unions and religious groups – is responsible for defending the country in the event of an invasion, even if they're not a member of the Armed Forces.


Dual citizens are eligible for military service in Sweden, but not if they’ve previously done military service in another country. Dual citizens however cannot be used in combat should conflict break out between Sweden and the other country they are also a citizen of.

When The Local in 2022 asked our readers how they felt about the security situation in Sweden, as many as three quarters said they would be willing to defend Sweden in the event of armed conflict.

“I would gladly fight for this country and its citizens and residents," said one reader from Mexico at the time. "Sweden welcomed me when I needed to find finally a place to call home."

An American respondent with a Swedish live-in boyfriend however told the same survey: "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."


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Ramo 2024/01/11 13:38
I look forward to seeing Ulf Kristersson on the front lines, leading by example
Emma Löfgren, Editor 2024/01/10 07:08
Jamey: Civilförsvarsförbundet (The Civil Defence Association) might be what you're looking for:
J.S. 2024/01/09 18:59
Would we meet the minimum salary requirement if we chose to serve in the Swedish armed forces? This is especially concerning if we then want to sponsor our families to live here with us, such as a spouse.
Imadur Rahman 2024/01/09 17:44
For me, its a religious duty to defend the country that I have adopted as mine. So, there is no question about defending Sweden if it is attacked.
Jamey 2024/01/09 17:19
Hi There I have been reading about serving and defending Sweden which I strongly support. I am 57 year old American living here in Göteborg with my Swedish daughters and Wife. I applied for Citizenship almost a year ago, in the 33 month queue so to speak. I am wondering in what capacity I can serve Sweden's defense? I am not in particularly good physical condition, but thinking there must be something I can do to serve this country in a more proactive way, than preparing my home for defense?
Ben Peters 2024/01/09 16:54
I have lived in sweden for 9 years now and am ready and willing to fight for this country( sweden) that i love dearly. This is my home and this is where all my kids where born and call home so am willing and ready at any time if am called to serve and defend this great nation of sweden at any time. God bless sweden.

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