Feb 17, 2021
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Will Sweden remain neutral?

The lack of independence of Sweden’s foreign policy moves it to a dangerous line of international confrontation

14 february Swedish newspaper Today’s news published an open letter signed by senior politicians expressing concern about the country’s foreign policy. Sweden is losing its traditional neutral status, it is increasingly losing its independence and subordinate to the United States. And everything, the authors assure, because of the fear of Russia.

Among the signatories to the article are former defense ministers and speaker of parliament Tagi Peterson, former foreign affairs minister Hans Blix, former head of the humanitarian aid ministry and Sweden’s representative to the UN, Pierre Schory, several former ambassadors, and a number of prominent former parliamentarians. They remind: recently the Swedish parliament said that Sweden reserves the right to apply for NATO membership if it deems it necessary.

Sweden, the authors of the letter argue, no longer dares to pursue an independent foreign policy. And this shift away from traditional Swedish neutrality is motivated “Aggressive policy of Russia and its repressions”

In fact, according to the authors of the article, Russia has every reason to fear the actions of the West. “Is it true that the threat from today’s Russia really outweighs the threat from the Soviet Union during the Cold War? Today, although Russia is building up its armaments, the United States spends about 10 times more on military expenditures, and military contributions in European NATO countries are in total three times higher than Russian ones “, – the letter says.

“In an effort to adapt to US actions, – indicate the authors of the letter, – we have largely sacrificed our foreign policy independence and ability to constructively prevent conflicts and reduce tension in the world. We see how US pressure forced Sweden to abandon its familiar and proven policy against nuclear weapons … And most importantly: the new Swedish policy contributed to the growth of tensions in Northern Europe, since Sweden found itself on the line of confrontation between the United States and Russia, and this is categorically contrary to our security interests “

NATO membership, they write, “Will not solve Sweden’s security problems, but only make the country more vulnerable”… Sweden must act in such a way that it is not treated as part of a potential threat to another country, but as a fighter for peace, detente and international cooperation, the letter says.

Sweden has pursued a policy of neutrality for many years. Part of Western civilization, it did not join NATO, but in the latter it has been rapidly increasing its military spending. Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist has presented a new defense bill for 2021-2025, which is the largest military budget since the 1950s. Military appropriations are proposed to be raised from SEK 60 billion to SEK 87 billion (by 40%). As the US is Sweden’s third export trading partner, and US companies are the most represented foreign companies in Sweden, economic dependence is becoming political. Sweden is a member of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. 500 Swedish soldiers serve in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

Provocations are used to draw Sweden into NATO. In October 2014, when an incident with a submarine occurred off the coast of Stockholm, the military in the West hinted at the Russian origin of the ship, reported intercepting allegedly distress signals towards Kaliningrad, etc. Stockholm’s relations with Moscow were spoiled. Six months later, the Swedes admitted that there was no “Russian submarine”, but the deed, as they say, was done. Anxiety has been instilled in the Swedish population. In 2017, Thomas Rice, professor of security and strategy at the Graduate School of National Defense at Stockholm University, wrote: “In fact, Sweden is no longer de facto neutral. Western military exercises on its territory reflect the alarm of all northern countries about the military power of Russia “

Meanwhile, a vote in a poll conducted in the same 2017 showed that the number of NATO opponents in Sweden still exceeds the number of supporters (43% versus 32%). “Instead of stirring up alarm and frightening everyone with Russia, Sweden should enter into dialogue with it and with other neighboring countries in order to reduce aggression and tensions. Transparency and respect, instead of deception and mistrust, will benefit everyone. “, – the Swedish newspaper writes Proletarian..

These sentiments, like an open letter in Today’s news (signals come from different segments of the Swedish political spectrum) indicate a division of European public opinion. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, following a meeting on February 15 with his Finnish counterpart Pekka Haavisto, said: “The choice is up to the European Union. If he decides that relations still need to be restored and the actions to break them to be reversed, we will be ready for this too ”

The example of Sweden shows how the conventional West is not united in its attitude to Russia. There are actually two Europeans. One Europe follows the mainstream of Washington’s transatlantic foreign policy, the other Europe is interested in strengthening relations with neighbors in the East and in developing international cooperation. Which Europe will prevail in the coming years? Today it depends not only on the Europeans themselves.

Cover photo: Joint exercise with the US and other NATO countries

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