The Swedish Government has issued a 20-page pamplet to the public with information on what to do in the event of war or another major crisis. The pamphlet is being sent to all 4.8 million Swedish households in the next week.
The leaflet, entitled ‘If War or Crisis Comes’ was issued by the Swedish Civil Protection Board (MSB) on behalf of the government and includes advice on how to obtain drinking water, food and medicine, how to locate the nearest air raid shelter as well as information on spotting ‘fake news’ or other propaganda.
This is the first such information to be issued by the Swedish government to householders since the cold war, when a similar drive was last made in 1961 (more recent publications were issed for use in public sector institutions).
A Swedish defence working grop issued a report in December which stated that Sweden cannot rule out being attacked by a hostile power. The group also noted that in the event of such an attack, Sweden could find itself alone and without external assistance for a minimum of three months, making the need for such a document all the more pressing.
The leaflet also stressed the obligation on every citizen of the country to act decisively if it is threatened.
”If Sweden is attacked by another power, we will not back down. Any type of information which runs counter to this is false and should be dismissed,” it stated.
The pamphlet does not point the finger at where any potential attackes may come from, however, but is couched in more general terms. MSB head Dan Eliasson told journalists that ”whilst Sweden is safer than most countries, dangers still exist.”
Nonetheless, the Swedish government has been beefing up its defence capability in the aftermath of the 2014 Ukraine crisis and tensions in the Baltic Sea region. Defence spending has increased, conscription is due to be reinstated and provisions have been made for defending the straetgically important Baltic island of Gotland, incuding sending troops there.
Popular support for joining NATO has also swelled and has become somewhat of a rallying cry for the four main centre-right opposition parties, who have been jockeying for postion with the upcoming general election in Sweden in September of this year. Polls indicate such parties are making headway with the electorate.
The current Social Democrat government does not openly support NATO membership, though they have made various defence cooperation agreements with the US and neighbouring Finland. Sweden has also signed an agreement which would allow NATO troops to pass through or otherwise use Swedish territory in the event of hostilities.
For its part Moscow has dismissed accusations of rising tensions in the region as ‘hysteria’ and ‘russophpobia’.
Sweden has not been involved in a war for over 200 years, and was neutral during the two world wars, though transit was granted in World War Two to German forces engaged in the occpuation of Norway.
It had been a regional military power in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, when its rule extended over a wide swathe of northeastern Europe, including Estonia.
Sweden opted not to join NATO on the formation of the bloc in 1949; despite, or perhaps because of this it has a quite a substantial arms, aerospace and defence industry with companies like Saab and Bofors.