Point of View

Sweden’s security

The long way towards total defence
Cover of the OSW Point of view "Sweden’s security. The long way towards total defence"

Since 2008, Swedish security policy has drawn keen interest from the countries of the Nordic and Baltic states, NATO, as well as the US and Russia. The allied member states have hoped to see Sweden join NATO, while Russia has sought to convince the Swedish government and public that it would be better to abandon integration with the trans-Atlantic security structures. Sweden, confronted with the increasingly aggressive policy of the Kremlin, has faced a major challenge in the last decade: how to pursue the security and defence policy of a non-aligned country with limited military capabilities? For a country that is part of the West, but not NATO, would the option of returning to its Cold War neutrality be viable? Or would it be possible for Sweden to become a member of the Alliance?

Stockholm has found its own answer to the security dilemmas. It is currently neither neutrality nor accession to NATO. Sweden is weaving an ever tighter network of military cooperation with the Alliance, the US, its Nordic neighbours and others to complement the limitations in defence capabilities of the Swedish Armed Forces, and restoring the ability of its society and economy to function in times of crisis and war. While this is admittedly not an optimal answer, it is nonetheless satisfactory given the domestic political circumstances.