Swedish Supreme Commander: 'It is on our watch that our future is at stake'

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Swedish Supreme Commander: 'It is on our watch that our future is at stake'
Sweden's Home Guard in a practice exercise in Trelleborg in 2022. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Micael Bydén, Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, called for less passivity when it comes to preparing for a potential attack on Sweden in a speech at Sweden's annual defence conference.


Bydén opened his speech at the annual “Folk och Försvar” defence conference with pictures of bombed buildings in Ukraine.

“This is what it looks like when life is turned upside down. Do you think this could be Sweden?” he asked, continuing that “the answer to that question determines everything” – such as urgency, funding, attitudes and decisions when it comes to boosting Sweden’s defence.

“It’s the end of comfort as we know it. The changing world requires more of us,” he said.

His speech came a day after Civil Defence Minister Carl-Oskar Bohlin sparked a stir when he told the conference on Sunday that “there could be war in Sweden”, meaning that the country’s over 200 years of peace does not automatically protect it from war.

“If it didn’t shake things up before, if you didn’t understand before how serious the situation is, if these are the decisive words – then [Bohlin’s comments] were pretty good,” said Bydén, reiterating that everyone in Sweden has a responsibility to step up in the event of a crisis or armed conflict.

He added that Russia’s reduced military capacity due to its war on Ukraine, and the fact that Sweden hopes to soon become a Nato member, did not make his words any less crucial.


“We are safer within the defence alliance, but we are not insured against having to fight for what we believe in,” said Bydén.

“The question I opened with was not rhetorical,” he said, adding that he had been in Ukraine a few weeks ago.

“I saw what Russian warfare looks like: a total war with a high degree of risk and an ignorance of human life, civilian infrastructure and the laws of war.”

If these developments are met with passivity, he said, they are doomed to fail.

“It is on our – shared – watch that our future is at stake.”


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