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HomeDefenceSweden to send NATO military battalion to Latvia

Sweden to send NATO military battalion to Latvia

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The Swedish government will send a small battalion to the NATO Multinational Force in Latvia as part of the country’s contribution to the transatlantic alliance, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson announced on Thursday.

According to Kristersson, Sweden will soon achieve “full military integration” with NATO, and as part of the country’s contribution to the alliance, the newest member will contribute some 400-500 troops to the multinational NATO force in Latvia by early 2025, along with a Stridsfordon 90 fighting vehicle, a Pansarterrängbil 360 all-terrain vehicle and a Leopard tank.

“The Swedish Armed Forces will now be tasked with preparing the Swedish contribution,” said Sweden’s prime minister.

Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. While Finland became a member in April 2023, Sweden became NATO’s 32nd member in March, ending more than two centuries of military non-alignment and allowing Stockholm to send troops abroad to support the transatlantic alliance’s mission.

The mission in Latvia is part of NATO’s so-called Forward Land Forces (FLF), which were established in the three Baltic states and Poland in 2017. However, following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, NATO decided to also establish such forces in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

According to Kristersson, Sweden is currently “only talking about soldiers who can be deployed.” However, he did not say whether fully trained conscripts could also be sent to Latvia, as more experience is needed.

“We are looking closely at how Finland, Norway and other countries have done it. But it’s not on the agenda at the moment,” Kristersson said, adding that he does not believe Sweden’s security would be compromised by sending troops abroad.

“NATO’s defence literally begins in Latvia,” said Kristersson, adding that the Swedish soldiers that will be deployed in Latvia will come back even better trained.

The battalion will be under Canadian command, and the Swedish army will rotate with the Danish army every six months at the Ādaži military base outside Riga.

Sending troops abroad requires parliamentary approval in Sweden, so the Swedish government must present a bill in parliament to get its proposal approved. However, it is widely expected that this approval will be granted, as Sweden’s leaders and parliamentarians – apart from a minority of left-wing and Green MPs – agree on Sweden’s approach to NATO involvement.

Source: Euractiv

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