Sweden prepares for Russian invasion
Sweden’s decision to reintroduce permanent troops to the island province of Gotland is wise in light of recent Russian aggression.The odds would appear to be stacked against the Swedes in the event of a large-scale Russian attack with only a 150 troops to defend it from invasion. They should think about joining NATO.
Swedish soldiers exercising on Gotland received an order September 14 not to leave. The 150 troops will remain on the island until mid-2017, when a planned permanent unit should be fully established there.
Sweden, which is not a member of NATO, has maintained a neutral status since the 19th century. However, it plays a vital role—both direct and indirect—in guaranteeing the security of the Baltic states, which are NATO members.
Gotland, Sweden’s largest island, is strategically located halfway between Sweden and Latvia in the middle of the Baltic Sea. Control over Gotland would prove crucial in the event of any future conflict in the region.
Due to its central location, Russia almost certainly factors the island into its Baltic Sea contingency planning.
If a war should break out between NATO and Russia, Russian troops based in nearby Kaliningrad likely would attempt to occupy the island and deploy anti-aircraft and anti-shipping weapons platforms. In fact, in March 2015, Russia carried out a large-scale training exercise with up to 33,000 soldiers, which included the capture of Gotland as part of its scenario.
Sweden maintained a permanent military garrison on Gotland for hundreds of years, until 2005.