Looking at Russia over their shoulder leads Sweden to bring back military service
Swedish MPs have backed the centre-left government’s proposal to reintroduce military conscription next year. The public broadcaster SR reported that mounting security concerns and inability to fill the ranks with volunteers led to the moves.
Having tabled compulsory military service for men only in 2010, ever-increasing militarisation in the Baltic region since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 made the Swedish government reconsider their position.
The decision, which was reportedly backed by around 70 percent of parliament, will mean 4000 men and women selected from 13,000 people born in 1999 will be called for service from 1st January 2018. Conscripts will serve for between nine and 12 months after which it is hoped that significant numbers will become military professionals.
Sweden is known for its neutrality but ‘Russian military activity’ was given as ‘one of the reasons’ for the move.A garrison was also recently restored to the island of Gotland which straddles three former Soviet states.
Sweden and Finland cooperate closely on military matters and though neither are NATO members, the threat from Russia seems to be bringing them closer to the organisation.