Sweden risks being a primary target – In a military conflict of NATO VS. Russia

This article by leading members of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights was published today  in Sweden’s main newspaper Dagens Nyheter (original tittle, ”Sverige riskerar bli förstahandsmål”, DN.se, 2/9, 2015). It is a rebuttal to recent declarations by the Swedish Defense minister Peter Hultqvist in DN-debatt (31/8, 2015), where he publicly advocated for a further increase in Sweden’s military cooperation with the U.S., “because of Russia”.

swedhr replik i DN.seDN’s summary:

“Rebuttal. In Dagens Nyheter (31/8, 2015) Defence minister Hultqvist expresses  the view that Sweden should deepen its defense cooperation with the United States. But he has not shown that a deepening of our cooperation with the United States would be better for Sweden than to instead deepen our geopolitical neutrality stance.”

Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist (S) writes in Dagens Nyheter (31/8) [1] that Sweden should deepen the cooperation with the United States because of Russia’s growing military armaments, Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimea, the armed conflict in Ukraine, Russia’s increased military activity and a potential threat towards the Baltic countries, and more.

But Defence Minister Hultqvist has not managed to show that a deepening of our cooperation with the United States would be better than to instead deepen our neutrality. We think that the prevailing neutrality during Olof Palme’s time, combined with a strengthening of our own defence in the form of, for example reintroduction of conscription, would be better guarantee for Sweden’s security. This would also mean that Sweden could reclaim an active role in the work of peace and respect for human rights in the world.

What Defence Minister Hultqvist does not mention is that NATO’s defence spending now is nearly tenfold, compared to Russia’s, i.e. on resources for wars and military spending. NATO has since the Soviet Union’s ending more than doubled the number of Member States that now encircle Russia with missile bases. [2]

We believe that the U.S. war in Iraq, and the NATO operations in Afghanistan and Libya – done according to an interpretation of UN resolutions – and which resulted in more than a million deaths – is a much worse crime against international law than the Russian annexation of Crimea, that occurred with a substantial and popular support and without any deaths.

Why should Sweden, at all, pursue military-cooperation agreements with a government that regularly attacks the human rights as a result of it’s military doctrine? There is no other country that has supported so many military coups in democratic countries like the United States.

One can criticize and attack the dictators who are independent in relation to the United States, such as Iraq, Libya and Syria;  but not others, such as Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and all the military dictatorships that the U.S. have supported / established in South America and also in Asia.

Sven Hirdman, former Undersecretary of Defense and Ambassador in Moscow, assesses that an isolated Russian attack on Sweden is extremely unlikely – but that a Swedish NATO membership would lead to increased tension. A Swedish closer cooperation with the US / NATO does not lead to greater security but is likely to make Sweden a primary objective in a military conflict with NATO.

Why not strive for a neutral Sweden, that  would contribute to a greater safety not only for the country itself, but also in the region, and thus reducing the risk of war?

Dr Leif Elinder

Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli

Dr. Martin Gelin

Professor Anders Romelsjö

The signatories are members of the Board of the Swedish Doctors for Human Rights, SWEDHR


[1] Peter Hultqvist, “ ”Sveriges militära samarbete med USA måste fördjupas”, DN-debatt, 31 August 2015.

[2]  Marcello Ferrada de Noli, Anders Romelsjö, Leif Elinder, “Severe tensions between Nato, Russia and Ukraine could lead to a greater war – Warmongers should think twice”. NewsVoice, 27 Mars 2015.

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