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EXPLAINED: Russia Suggests Sweden Or Austria As Military Model For Ukraine

Reuters

Last Updated: March 17, 2022, 19:50 IST

The Ukrainian national flag is seen in front of a school which, according to local residents, was on fire after shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on February 28, 2022. (Reuters File Photo)

The Ukrainian national flag is seen in front of a school which, according to local residents, was on fire after shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on February 28, 2022. (Reuters File Photo)

Sweden and Austria are both members of the European Union (EU), but not of the NATO military alliance.

Ukraine could become a non-aligned or neutral state like Sweden or Austria, Russia said on Wednesday, as it seeks a compromise with Kyiv to end three weeks of war. Here are some facts about the military status of Sweden and Austria, which are both members of the European Union but not of the NATO military alliance. Ukraine has previously said it wants to join both organisations, a stance that helped prompt Russia’s decision to invade its southern ex-Soviet neighbour on Feb. 24.

SWEDEN

  • Sweden was neutral in World War Two and part of the non-aligned movement during the Cold War, though it secretly cooperated with the United States in providing sensitive information on the Soviet Union.
  • It gave up its formal neutrality when it joined the EU in 1995 and replaced it with a policy of military non-alignment.
  • It has increased links to NATO in recent years and regularly participates in military exercises. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson recently rejected calls for membership, saying it would destabilise Europe’s security.
  • Sweden has participated in NATO and U.N. missions, for example in Mali, Afghanistan and Iraq, though usually in roles such as training and communications support.
  • It cooperates closely with a number of countries on defence matters, including the United States, France and neighbouring Finland, which is also not a NATO member.
  • Sweden is part of the Joint Expeditionary Force, a British-led quick-response force with a focus on the High North, the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea region.
    None of its allies is formally committed to fighting alongside Sweden if it were invaded.
  • After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sweden said it plans to increase military spending to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) as soon as possible, the level NATO members are required to meet, though most currently do not.

AUSTRIA

  • Moscow made Austria’s neutrality, modelled on Switzerland’s, a condition of its independence when the country’s occupation by the four Allied forces after World War Two ended in 1955.
  • Austria effectively became a buffer zone between the eastern bloc and the West, but the countries surrounding it are now all NATO member states with the exceptions of Switzerland and tiny Liechtenstein.
  • Austria has a relatively small and underfunded military. Its defence spending was just 0.6% of GDP in 2020, the second-lowest level in the EU after Malta, Eurostat statistics show, well below the EU average of 1.3%. Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has suggested increasing it to at least 1%.
  • Austria is a partner to NATO, and takes part in operations with a U.N. mandate under NATO command, such as the KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo.
  • Austria does not usually allow foreign powers to use or pass through its territory unless they are acting under a U.N. Security Council mandate.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)
first published:March 17, 2022, 19:49 IST
last updated:March 17, 2022, 19:50 IST
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