Sweden increases military presence on Gotland island due to Russia's activity in the Baltic Sea
Sweden's Armed Forces have beefed up their units on the island of Gotland amid growing Russian military activity in the Baltic Sea. Earlier this week, Danish media reported that three ships of the Russian Navy entered the Baltic Sea through the Danish Great Belt Strait, DW reported.
The Swedish public broadcaster SVT published footage showing the arrival of military personnel and equipment in the island. The troops and equipment were delivered by ferry to the administrative center of the island - the city of Visby. On January 14, a military transport plane with soldiers and equipment also landed at Visby airport.
The commander of the Swedish Army’s Gotland Regiment, Matthias Ardin, confirmed that a "dozen combat vehicles" were deployed and some of them are already patrolling the island.
The increased combat readiness is due to the Russian military activity in the Baltic, confirmed the Swedish Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist.
"The armed forces are taking the necessary measures to support the integrity of Sweden and demonstrate our ability to protect Sweden and Swedish interests," Hultqvist said.
Increased military patrols in Gotland is a sign that Stockholm is serious about the situation and that Sweden will not be "taken by surprise," said Hultqvist.
Sweden is not a member of NATO but works closely with the Alliance. The accession of Sweden and Finland to the North Atlantic Alliance "would have serious military-political consequences that would require adequate steps from the Russian side," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on December 24, 2021.
After Russia's annexation of Crimean in 2014, Stockholm increased up its military security. In 2017, Sweden resumed universal military duty, which was abolished in 2010.