Sweden to Devise New Foreign Military Aid Strategy
While Sweden remains formally non-aligned, it has been creeping closer to NATO and forming bilateral partnerships. Last week, a new enquiry was launched into the exact extent of the military help Sweden will be able to give and receive without breaking its age-old tradition of non-alignment.
The aim of the government investigation is to establish a comprehensive operational procedure in deciding on giving or receiving military help in times of war or crisis.
"This is really very simple: what do we do if we get into a crisis or a war situation, which stipulates our need to receive or give help to Finland? Who makes the decisions? What are the government's and parliament's respective roles and how can we ensure that everything happens quickly in such a situation?" Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told Swedish Radio.
According to him, the purpose of the investigation is to make sure quick decisions are made in times of crisis to avoid fumbling and procrastination. In addition to wars, help may be extended in the event of that a country's borders are violated. Lastly, the inquiry will review the powers of foreign troops that may embark into Sweden in a similar situation.
"For this cooperation to be effective, we need to establish how the chain of command will look and how we handle the situation beyond peacetime conditions," Peter Hultqvist said.
At present, Sweden maintains its closest defense cooperation with similarly non-aligned Finland, running a series of joint defense projects and exercises. However, given its widening partnerships with other Nordic nations, as well as NATO and the EU, giving and receiving military help to and from other countries will also be considered, which may facilitate help from a wider array of NATO countries and draw Sweden even closer to the alliance.
In addition to joint defense projects with Finland, Sweden also shares operational planning in the event of a conflict. The fast-track decision-making is widely viewed as another step in this direction, yet Peter Hultqvist ensured that a formal defense alliance was still a remote possibility.
"We work, of course, increasingly closer and I see it as in our strategic interest. But I do not wish to speculate about agreements, alliances, pacts and such," Hultqvist said.
Sweden and Finland have shared a special relation since the Middle Ages, when most of today's Finland fell under the Swedish rule. During the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union, Sweden, though formally non-belligerent, supported its Nordic neighbor with some 8,000 army and air force volunteers and took in Finland's "war children."