Russian military activities: Sweden increases patrols in the Baltic Sea

Russian military activities
Sweden strengthens its patrols in the Baltic Sea

Sweden is not a member of NATO and Moscow flatly refused to join. Stockholm is therefore reacting with concern to the increased Russian military presence in the Baltic Sea: armored fighting vehicles patrol the port city of Visby.

In view of the increase in “Russian activities” in the Baltic Sea, Sweden sent several armored vehicles to the streets of the island of Gotland and patrolled soldiers there. About 10 armored fighting vehicles and dozens of soldiers were in the small port town of Visby, the army said. A few days earlier, three Russian Navy ships entered the Baltic Sea through the Great Belt strait in Denmark.

“The armed forces are taking the necessary measures to protect Sweden’s integrity and to demonstrate our ability to protect Sweden and Swedish interests,” Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said. The increase in patrols on Gotland is a sign that Sweden is taking the situation seriously and “will not be taken by surprise”, Hultqvist told the TT news agency. The army said Thursday evening that the units would be deployed “to reinforce operations in several locations” as “Russian activities in the Baltic Sea increase”.

Swedish armed forces chief of operations Michael Claesson, however, denied that it was a targeted Swedish “show of power”. He said the units were part of the force already stationed on the island. It is a “natural way to adjust the military presence”.

Although Sweden is not a member of NATO, it works closely with the alliance. Russia recently warned the country of “serious consequences” if it joined the alliance. Since Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, Stockholm has again strengthened its defenses. In 2017, he reintroduced conscription.

“Creating a pretext for a military invasion”

In view of a massive deployment of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, the West is concerned that Russia is currently preparing to invade the neighboring country. The Kremlin categorically opposes it. But according to the United States, Moscow is already working to create a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine. “We have information that Russia has already deployed a group of operatives to conduct a false flag operation in eastern Ukraine,” government spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

“Russia is preparing the ground for the possibility of inventing a pretext for an invasion.” The aim is to accuse Ukraine of “preparing an imminent attack against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine”. Russian forces plan to start these activities a few weeks before a military invasion, which could begin “between mid-January and mid-February”.

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