Sweden Prepares Its Citizens For 'Imminent' War With Russia
Brochure sent out too 4.7 million resident households
Sweden has issued an official public information manual urging its citizens to prepare for war with Russia urging the public to stock up on essential food supplies as tensions grow.
The brochure, which has now been sent out too 4.7 million resident households, details how preparations can be made to survive the coming the war and stock up on food, water, and heating.
According to Smh.com.au Russia's annexation of Crimea and military support for Ukrainian separatists, along with increased activity and exercises near the Baltic states and Scandinavia, have caused deep unease in Sweden.
The neutral country has begun to reverse post-Cold War defence cuts and step up military preparedness as incursions by Russian planes and submarines have sparked public debate over whether to join NATO.
Last September, Sweden held its biggest military exercise in 23 years, with war games involving 19,000 Swedish personnel and allies from Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, France, Norway and the US. Last year it voted to reintroduce conscription and also said it would start negotiations to buy a US-made Patriot missile defence system.
The first edition of the If War Comes booklet was published during the Second World War and similar instructions have not been given out since 1961.
"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," Christina Andersson, leader of the project at the Swedish civil contingencies agency, told the Financial Times.
NATO has accused Russia of conducting a mock nuclear attack on Sweden in March 2013. Sweden's military was unprepared and had to rely on Danish jets, operating as part of a NATO Baltic air policing mission, to respond.
Martin Kragh, head of the Russia program at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, said even if still unlikely, "what was unthinkable five years ago is no longer unthinkable.
"This has very different policy implications."