Sweden prepares war leaflets
Sweden says it is planning to send leaflets to 4.7 million homes with instructions on what to do in the case of a war and how to take part in “total defence”, securing food, water and heating.
The pamphlets will reportedly explain how to prepare for terrorist or cyber attacks and natural disasters, in response to concerns over Russia’s military activities and the rise of terrorist threats and fake news.
Similar instructions were distributed during the Second World War but discontinued during the Cold War.
“There is a significantly more complex threat with climate change, terror attacks, pandemics and manipulation of information. People need to learn and know about how to deal with it,” Christina Andersson of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency told Aftonbladet newspaper.
Sweden has been increasing its military spending, with particular reference to the Russian
2014 invasion of Ukraine.
In has since restored a military garrison on the Baltic island of Gotland (pictured) amid concerns over Russia’s military exercises, where Russian planes and submarines have entered Swedish airspace and waters.
The defence of Gotland is limited, given its proximity to Russia’s Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad. Fourteen tanks have been deployed without any crews or maintenance personnel assigned to them and the island reportedly has no air-defence capability. There are no naval assets based at Gotland.
Gotland is Sweden’s largest island with a population is 58,000 of which almost half live in Visby, the main town. The strategically located island is largely dependent on agriculture, food processing, tourism, IT services, design and cement production from the island’s limestone quarry.
Stockholm’s parliament has recently debated whether to join Nato, abandoning the Scandinavian nation’s neutral tradition.
Military conscription was reintroduced in 2017 and in September the country’s largest-ever military exercise was held with 19,000 Swedish personnel and troops from Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, France, Norway and the US. It also entered talks to buy a US-made Patriot missile-defence system.
“All of society needs to be prepared for conflict, not just the military. We haven’t been using words such as total defence or high alert for 25 to 30 years or more. So the knowledge among citizens is very low,” added Christina Andersson.
There is also a rising terror threat. Five died and 14 were injured in a Stockholm truck attack last April by 39-year-old failed asylum seeker Rakhmat Akilov.
The updated version of “If Crisis or War Comes” is due to distributed in May and towns have also been ordered to prepare Cold War-era civil defence contingency plans, including ensuring that bunkers are upgraded and maintained.
Earlier military action is commemorated on the strategically located Baltic island of Gotland. Picture credit: Flickr