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Concerned about Russia and Sweden increasing troops on the outpost island

The Swedish armed forces are increasing their combat readiness in some areas, citing Russia’s increased military activity.

Military resources will be “reallocated to increase operations in some places” in Sweden, with the change “obvious” on Gotland island in the Baltic Sea, said Michael Claesson, director of operations for the Swedish military. Dien, said in a statement on January 13.

The Aftonbladet newspaper yesterday published a video showing armored vehicles patrolling the harbor of Visby, the largest town on the island.

Swedish soldiers from Gotland’s regiment patrol in the port of Visby on January 13. Photo: AFP.

Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, but is not a member of NATO. Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Sweden restored conscription from 2018 and beefed up its military capabilities, which had been declining since the end of the Cold War.

Gotland is located about 320 km northwest of Russia’s Kaliningrad region, a militarized area.

“The security situation in the area near us has been dire for a long time, and the recent course of events reinforces that picture,” Claesson said, adding that the Russian navy’s move “doesn’t mean anything.” threat increases, but we are always adapting to the current situation.”

Earlier this week, Swedish fighters closely followed amphibious ships of the Russian Northern Fleet entering the Baltic Sea through the Great Belt, Denmark.

Sweden’s move comes amid a recent escalation of tensions between Russia and the West after the US and NATO accused Russia of sending about 70,000-100,000 troops close to the border with Ukraine, expressing concern that this country might launch an all-out war. Russia denies the allegations and declares them “baseless”, insisting all military moves on its western border are purely for defensive purposes.

Moscow last month made a series of security proposals to the West that seek to reduce NATO’s military presence to 1990s levels. Russia also asked NATO to ensure that it does not expand the alliance eastward or deploy weapons. forces in the countries of the former Soviet Union.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, Micael Byden, warned that the Swedish military would not be able to perform its function if Russia forced the West to agree to its proposals.

Location of the island of Gotland.  Graphics: sverigesradio

Location of the island of Gotland. Graphics: sverigesradio

Huyen Le (Follow Bloomberg)