Sweden shows military presence after Russian activities in the Baltic

AFaced with increased “Russian activity” in the Baltic Sea, Sweden has sent several armored vehicles to the streets of the island of Gotland and patrolled soldiers. A dozen armored fighting vehicles and dozens of soldiers were in the small port town of Visby on Friday, 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 demonstrate our ability to protect Sweden and Swedish interests,” Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told AFP.

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 told AFP 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.

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.

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