It was also the seed of Swedish non-alignment, which was later formulated as an ideal of being non-aligned in peacetime in order to be neutral in war. And where an attack has risked coming from has been crystal clear from the first days of the post-war period. The threat to Swedish freedom, democracy and security has existed in the Soviet Union’s military claims on its surroundings. By giving credibility to the principle of neutrality, the risk of a Soviet attack would be eliminated. According to a previous government investigation, the Kremlin has also tried to ascertain the authenticity of the Swedish line with the help of intelligence and reporting from embassies. It has also been something of a dilemma. In the event that our non-alignment should not succeed in preventing an armed attack, the plan has always been to cooperate with the West. Since the 1990s, the Swedish Armed Forces have worked in various ways to increase collaboration and partnership with NATO, even though membership was considered a non-issue. The security policy line could be summed up as that we have hoped for the best but stood without guarantees in case the worst should occur. Although non-alignment was meant to keep us militarily neutral, it was not meant to be regarded as an ideological neutrality between East and West. Nevertheless, the choice to stand outside NATO, and the Western allies, has signaled just that. A stated aim of non-alignment was to contribute to low tension between East and West, and thus Sweden accepted the role of a buffer zone. That is also how Russia has viewed us. After the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Russian leadership highlighted the proposal for a neutrality solution for Ukraine and cited Sweden as an example. When Magdalena Andersson emphasized in March of last year that a Swedish NATO application would destabilize the situation in Europe, this is the point of view she expressed. It required a new large-scale war in Europe, of the old mechanical and deadly model, to realize that the Swedish doctrine built on a risky and fundamentally flawed image of Russia. Not least after the fall of the Soviet Union. This is also the reason why we are now in the most serious security policy situation since the Second World War, with a neo-Stalinist Russia on the other side of the Baltic Sea, without any defense guarantees. When Sweden decided to apply for membership in NATO last year, it was thus the most important security policy decision on two centuries. The fact that it was forced at such a critical time is due to the fact that, above all, the Social Democrats have not been able to take Swedish security seriously before. That the Green Party and the Left Party do not change their line even in this situation will forever tarnish their image. The decision to apply for membership was also a declaration that Sweden fully belongs in the West, and a long-awaited signal about the values we ultimately stand for. The protection of individual freedom, democracy and the principles of the rule of law is enshrined in the defense alliance treaty. It is bigger and finer than any neutrality. But the road to NATO has been lined with thistles and when the defense alliance’s summit begins in Vilnius on Tuesday, Sweden is not yet a member. Still pending approvals from Turkey and Hungary. It’s frustrating, but at the same time only a matter of time. Sweden needs NATO, but they also need us. Not least for our competence and ability in and around the Baltic Sea, which forms part of the front line against Russia and is of ever greater strategic importance. The Swedish Navy’s submarines are among the most advanced in the world, and unlike American and Russian submarines, they cope with the conditions and shallow waters of the Baltic Sea perfectly well. What Sweden should do now is instead to focus on the long-term task of preparing for the role of full NATO member. A number of problems have previously been pointed out by the defense committee for the Swedish rearmament, such as a lack of personnel, material and infrastructure. The defense industry is fighting for the same competence as many other companies, such as SKF, Sandvik, Volvo or ABB. It concerns, for example, software engineers and electronics engineers, but also welders and machine operators. There is already a need for several thousand new hires. A plan is needed for this supply of skills. Nor is Sweden the only country that wants to buy weapons and ammunition. As recently as last week, Saab received an order from Australia for the Carl-Gustaf grenade launcher, and in May Hägglunds won its biggest deal ever with hundreds of combat vehicles for the Czech Republic. Here, Sweden needs to clarify early on what we need from the defense companies and put the money on the table. In addition, the processes in and around defense need to go faster and more smoothly than today, in everything from environmental permits to procurement. Daring to reconsider rigid regulations is a call from Commander-in-Chief Micael Bydén that bears repeating. Ukraine has shown strength in speed and we need to emulate that already. Sweden has never been closer to NATO membership than today. It is a decision of historical dimensions but not a final destination. We must already look ahead.
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