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Report: Swedish NATO membership could lead to arms race

Published fredag 2 september 2016 kl 09.37
Sweden during a military exercise with NATO above the Baltic Sea. Photo: Yvonne Åsell/SvD/TT
Sweden during a military exercise with Nato above the Baltic Sea. Photo: Yvonne Åsell/SvD/TT

An arms race in the Baltic region is a likely scenario if Sweden joins NATO, but the risk of a conflict involving Russia would decline, according to a government investigation.

Those are some of the conclusions drawn in a government-commissioned inquiry seen by news agency TT.

It was in connection with a defence agreement reached last year between the government parties and the conservative Moderates, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats that ambassador Krister Bringéus was tasked with investigating the pros and cons of a Swedish NATO membership, as well as of joint efforts with other countries and organisations.

One of the advantages of a Swedish NATO membership, Bringéus found, is that it would lead to less uncertainty about Sweden’s position in case of a conflict in the Baltic Sea region.

“The conflict deterrent capacity would, by all accounts, increase,” the report states.

Bringéus’ report also finds it unlikely that Russia would want to attack Sweden only. A slightly more likely scenario would be for Sweden to get drawn into an armed conflict as a consequence of Russia attacking the Baltic states. Further, Russia would be able to gain military control of the Baltics within just a few days, according to the report.

However, the inquiry found that a Swedish NATO membership would in no way solve the current shortcomings of the Swedish Armed Forces. The report states: “For NATO members, the first line of defence are the national resources.” For instance, it would take at least three weeks for a US groundforce-reinforcement to reach Sweden.

Sweden would be welcomed into NATO, and a membership application would be processed within approximately one year, the investigation found. Swedish-Russian relations would become disastrously poor, but Bringéus thinks the consequences would stop at military threats, harsh rhetoric, economic sanctions, and intelligence operations.

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