Swedish defence strategy in tatters if Russian demands met – military chief

Written by on January 7, 2022

January 7, 2022

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden’s security strategy would be entirely undermined if NATO agreed to refrain from expanding further and curb some of its activity in Europe, as Russia has demanded, Sweden’s top military commander told a newspaper.

Russia has amassed troops near its border with Ukraine, alarming the West. While denying claims from Washington that it is preparing an invasion, Moscow wants a string of security guarantees, including a halt to the Atlantic military alliance’s eastward expansion.

The Russian demands have unnerved European non-NATO members, including Sweden, which has strengthened ties with the alliance and does not want its relationship circumscribed, even if it has no plans to join at present.

“The proposals for a new security order would destroy the foundations of our security policy structure,” General Micael Byden told daily Dagens Nyheter.

“We aim to become a stronger defence power in all categories and develop overall defence. But that hinges on developed international cooperation.”

Sweden’s government has stepped up diplomatic activity, with Foreign Minister Ann Linde meeting U.S. officials and Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson due to hold talks with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Friday.

Andersson said after talks with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto on Thursday that Europe’s security order was non-negotiable. “In Sweden, we ourselves decide over our foreign and security policy and who we cooperate with.”

(Reporting by Niklas Pollard; editing by John Stonestreet)

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