The Scandinavian countries are continuing their militarized posture in response to the Russian war in Ukraine, with Sweden's government being the latest to issue a surprise announcement and unusual move, given its longtime peace and prior stance of historic neutrality.
On Monday Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson unveiled that new steps are being taken to reintroduce conscription for civilians, toward bolstering the country's emergency response services, given new realities as a result of Russia's military action in Ukraine.
Kristersson said the civil service is taking steps starting this week: "We’re going back to a situation where we have a formalized civil duty," he said at a press briefing alongside Defense Minister Pal Jonson and Civil Defense Minister Carl-Oskar Bohlin.
They cited the conflict in Ukraine and Russian aggression as making necessary a greater and broader readiness posture in case of a state of emergency, or even potential attack on the nation.
Civil Defense Minister Carl-Oskar Bohlin stressed: "Experiences from Ukraine are clear – when it comes to protecting the civilian population, rescue services are put under very heavy pressure."
Sweden had such conscription plans in place for emergency civil services during the height of the Cold War. National media reports say that according to early government discussions, as many 3,000 people could be called up during the beginning phase of the plan.
But details are still being ironed out, with Bohlin adding, "We do not know exactly how many may be covered by the duty. We see that the municipal rescue service today is not designed for the demands of a high alert and ultimately an armed attack."
After existing throughout much of the 20th century, the Swedish government finally abandoned compulsory civil service, given the Cold War had definitively ended by the prior decade, and as Europe hadn't seen a major war since WWII.