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Sweden boosts patrols on Gotland island: Could Russia invade? DW News

DW, 27 Jan 2022
The US and NATO have formally rejected Moscow's sweeping security demands, refusing - among other things - to rule out future NATO membership for Ukraine. In its written reply to Moscow's proposals, Washington offers what it calls 'a serious diplomatic path' out of the crisis. In recent weeks, Russia has massed some one hundred thousand troops near its border with Ukraine, stirring fears of an attack.
But Ukraine isn't the only country feeling threatened by Russia's military maneuvers.
The Swedish island of Gotland was a key strategic asset of Sweden for centuries, until 2005 when the government assessed post-Cold War tensions as so low that it disbanded all permanent military units here in what turned out to be just wishful thinking.
That’s why the Swedish government has been re-arming the island since shortly after Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea region – and has intensified it in recent weeks.
That Gotland could be next in the Kremlin’s sites is no longer unthinkable for Swedes watching the Russian government continue to escalate.
Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist believes the country has enough friends to feel safe, even without being a member of NATO.
But being a partner to NATO doesn’t provide the guarantee of mutual defense that allies get…and which Pal Jonson, head of the Swedish parliament’s defense committee, feels his country needs.
A recent poll shows an increasing number of Swedes support NATO membership but that still only amounts to about a third of the population. For now, anyway.
But then the question would be whether NATO would accept a country already in dire straits, especially if Gotland were gone.

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