Sweden has announced that it is stepping into the Ukraine-Russia war, breaking with decades of tradition by ending its policy of not sending arms to countries in active conflict.
At the end of the Cold War, Sweden officially declared that it would be abandoning its stance of neutrality. Even after making this decision, the country has remained officially “non-aligned,” staying out of all military alliances. Sweden has even chosen not to join NATO, though it has been a partner to the alliance since the mid-1990s. This decision to step into the Ukraine-Russia conflict appears to be the first instance of Sweden breaking its tradition of non-alliance.
According to the announcement, Sweden will be sending military equipment, including anti-tank launchers and protective gear, to Ukraine in the midst of Russia’s invasion of the country.
“My conclusion is now that our security is best served by us supporting Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Russia,” Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told reporters.
The Prime Minister stated that Sweden will be sending Ukraine 5,000 of the model “Pansarskott 86” anti-tank weapons, which are single-use anti-tank launchers known internationally as Bofors AT-4.
Andersson also mentioned that the country’s decision to send arms — along with 135,000 field rations, 5,000 helmets and 5,000 pieces of body armor — is the first time that Sweden has sent weapons to a country in armed conflict since 1939, when the Soviet Union attacked Finland.
Reporting from Swedish media indicates that Ukraine had specifically requested the more advanced Robot-57 anti-tank system.
When asked about the decision, Sweden’s Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist stated: “A weapons system that can strike against tanks and armoured vehicles has been requested and this is such a system.”
“In addition this is a system that is easy to operate, doesn’t require training and can be handled by a single soldier,” he added.