Sweden is to reintroduce military conscription by 1 July, citing difficulties in filling army ranks on a voluntary basis and increased Russian military activity in the Baltics.
The defence minister the Social Democrat-Green coalition government, Peter Hultqvist, said the move was in response to a deteriorating security environment in Europe. “We are in a context where Russia has annexed Crimea,” the minister told AFP. “They are doing more exercises in our immediate vicinity.”
“We saw that our units could not be filled on a voluntary basis. A decision had to be taken to complement the (volunteer) system which is why we are reactivating conscription,” he added.
The draft in Sweden was abolished in 2010, more than 100 years after its introduction. With the lack of enthusiasm by the younger generations and decreasing unemployment rates, it became a challenge for the Swedish military to meet its target of 4,000 new recruits per annum.
Also, with the new practice, women, as well as men, will be called up. By reintroducing military conscription, Sweden will join Norway to become the second country in Europe where military service is compulsory for both women and men.
Source: Reuters, Sweden returns draft amid security worries and soldier shortage, 2nd March 2017; The Guardian, Sweden to reintroduce conscription amid rising Baltic tensions, 2nd March 2017.