Sweden Reinstates Military Draft Due to Rising Concerns Over Russia

A military ship with the Swedish flag on it.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

The Swedish government has just introduced a sweeping new measure. As of today, more than 13,000 men and women born in 1999 will be required to undergo a military assessment. Of those 13,000, about 4,000 will be called to serve on January 1, 2018.

Marinette Nyh Radebo, spokesperson for Sweden’s Ministry of Defense, cited increased concerns over Russia as a large part of the reason why Sweden decided to reinstate the draft.

“The Russian illegal annexation of Crimea [in 2014], the conflict in Ukraine and the increased military activity in our neighborhood are some of the reasons,” Radebo stated.

Russia’s current drafting system requires all men ages 18-27 have to serve at year in the armed forces. This will be the first time in history that the Swedish government has drafted women. Radebo says that the new policy will ensure that men and women are treated equally.

A 2015 research paper written by Barbara Kunz of the IFRI Security Studies Center shows that Sweden currently has about 52,000 full-time service members—20,000 of which are permanent staff with the remaining being Home Guard personnel.

Peter Hultqvist, Sweden’s Minister of Defense, said that the Swedish government is “strengthening its military cooperation with Finland and with the NATO partners.”

“If we want full and trained military units, the voluntary system needs to be complemented by compulsory military service,” Hultqvist said.

Swedish Ministry of Defense Spokesperson Nyh Radebo further asserted that, “70% of parliament is behind the decision to strengthen the military and co-operation with the countries around us.”

Those who are selected will serve anywhere from nine months to a year. Officials are hoping that those who are selected will choose to become lifelong service members or at the very least, join the reserves.

The Swedish draft is modeled after a similar conscription policy in Norway.

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